BUSCH: Beating Around The Busch, chapter 1

Beating Around The Busch By: Thomas Chemris Chapter 1: Busch Rookie Class of 2004 As the start of the 2004 Busch Grand National Series looms, an impressive crop of rookie competitors enter into the Busch ranks to make their bid as a future ...

Beating Around The Busch
By: Thomas Chemris

Chapter 1: Busch Rookie Class of 2004

As the start of the 2004 Busch Grand National Series looms, an impressive crop of rookie competitors enter into the Busch ranks to make their bid as a future champion.

Leading the pack is New Jersey's Martin Truex. Truex made a name for himself running Northeast modified, and then progressing to Busch North.

Last season he got the break he needed when he was selected to run a limited schedule with Dale Earnhardt Jr's Chance 2 Motorsports. Truex made ten starts for the team, and scored his first two top five finishes. Truex's stand out performance for the team landed him the ride as he makes the move to full time competition. Kevin Manion will serve as crew chief, and KFC/Taco Bell has signed on for a partial season sponsorship Truex has demonstrated he has the ability, and with the strength of Chance 2, this team will be running up front.

Kyle Busch used 2003 to demonstrate that he was not going to ride on his brothers' coattails. The eighteen-year-old Las Vegas native got a late start in 2003, he had to wait until his eighteenth birthday to enter NASCAR competition. He got his feet wet by tearing up the track in ARCA, and then came on board with Hendrick motorsports to make seven Busch starts, including his dramatic runner up finish at Darlington to teammate, and 2003 champion Brian Vickers.

Lowes Home Improvement will sponsor Busch. Lance McGrew will continue as crew chief. This is the team that won last years championship, and Busch does drive like someone who will not settle for mid pack finishes. Patience will be the key to this team topping the point's chart.

2004 will mark a return to full time competition for Andy Petree Racing as they field Paul Menard. Petree, who made a name for himself as a mechanic and crew chief fielded Cup cars until sponsorship problems closed down the team. The organization spent last year running selected Truck and Busch races, but has recently sold all Cup equipment to focus on the Busch effort. Menard is a versatile driver. He had six Busch starts last year, and broke into the top ten with his run at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Petree's experience will significantly help this rookie effort.

There are two part time rookies that are definitely ones to keep an eye on. JJ Yeley, who is the only other driver besides Tony Stewart to claim a USAC triple Crown will join Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing, running a limited Busch schedule in the seat vacated by Coy Gibbs. Yeley may be the most watched rookie to come along in years. Expectations are high, and many believe he is a future NASCAR Champion. Yeley, who made a name for himself in open wheel rides will get his first taste of stock car racing in the IROC series. Yeley is also expected to run selected ARCA events as part of his development program with Gibbs Racing,

Billy Parker, younger brother of Truck Series competitor Hank Parker Jr will make his series debut at Las Vegas with the inaugural race for the fledgling team owned by Rusty Wallace. Parker has been around the Busch scene, but trained his skills on North Carolina short tracks. Wallace announced the formation of the team last September, indicating Parker was competing against his son, and made such an impression, he was given the opportunity. "He reminded me of me when I was running ASA. Noted Wallace.

Since 1982 The Busch Series has been a proving ground for future champion. Names like Jarrett, Gordon, Labonte, and Stewart all got their experience in the division to go onto greatness. This year's rookie class not only has the same potential for greatness, but for a rookie champion.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Coy Gibbs , Andy Petree , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , Billy Parker , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing