Daytona Rookie Makes Dubious Debut

Busch makes dubious debut at Daytona By Bill Frederickson DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2000) If all of Kurt Busch's weekends in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are as exciting as this, he may want to invest in a pacemaker. The USG Sheetrock...

Busch makes dubious debut at Daytona By Bill Frederickson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2000) If all of Kurt Busch's weekends in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are as exciting as this, he may want to invest in a pacemaker. The USG Sheetrock Rookie of the Year candidate, who made his first career start on the circuit in Friday's Daytona 250, raced from the back of the field to place second in the series' first visit to Daytona International Speedway. That was far from the whole story, though.

Busch crashed in the weekend's first practice session, and his Exide Batteries Ford team was forced to roll out its backup ride. Then, in Wednesday's Bud Pole Qualifying, the engine in the No. 99 Ford blew up, putting Busch back to 34th on the starting grid.

And when the green flag dropped on Friday's race, Busch came to the quick realization that rookies receive little help when it comes to the draft.

"I was just thinking 'friends' today and basically trying to stay out of trouble," Busch said. "And I think I might've done the opposite of that. I've got a lot to learn this season, and hopefully the pace slows down."

Busch knows he won't earn many friends after a few miscues on the track. He acknowledged his role in a horrible 11-truck accident on lap 56, which sent two drivers -- including former Daytona 500 winner Geoffrey Bodine -- and five spectators to the hospital.

"People were just going by me, and I was happy to just tuck in where ever I could get in," Busch said. "Then a driver made it three-wide in the tri-oval.

"He just kind of shoved into me, and the real estate ran out really fast. I was just the meat in the sandwich and didn't know which way to go. I tried to hold my line and ended up rubbing a few fenders and causing a huge crash that took out a Winston Cup veteran and a few fans. It's really unfortunate that happened."

The accident brought out a red flag for over two hours. When the racing finally got back under way, Busch found himself involved in another scrape. While trying to cooperate with teammate -- and championship contender -- Greg Biffle, Busch ended up bumping the No. 50 Grainger Ford.

"The spotters miscommunicated," Busch said, "and I wasn't watching as close as I should have and we had a little bump."

But when the dust finally settled on a wild day of racing, Busch found himself finishing second in his series debut. The strong performance came despite Busch's inexperience in the trucks and at Daytona.

"Towards the end there, I didn't know where to go, what to do," Busch said. "Jack Roush's equipment just brought me to the front.

"We had a great roller-coaster weekend, to say the least. It was up and down, up and down and we ended up on a high note."

-nascar.com-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Geoffrey Bodine , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jack Roush