BUSCH: Beating Around The Busch, chapter 3

Beating Around The Busch By: Thomas Chemris Chapter 3: Early Season Surprises At the start of the season there are always a few surprises. Mother Nature made her presence known as she surprised everyone and the Busch series scored the seasons...

Beating Around The Busch
By: Thomas Chemris

Chapter 3: Early Season Surprises

At the start of the season there are always a few surprises. Mother Nature made her presence known as she surprised everyone and the Busch series scored the seasons first rain delay as the skies over Daytona opened and moved the event back two days.

Prior to the rescheduled event qualifying opened a few eyes as rookie Martin Truex Jr claimed his first ever series pole. Truex, a New Jersey native is starting his first full time season with chance 2 Motorsports, partially owned by defending race winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. "Bono (crew chief Kevin Manion) told me we were going to best the boss," Truex said. "He has been saying that since the first day of testing. The team did a great job over the winter building actually four cars. Regardless of how everything turned out, I'm just so happy to be involved with Chance 2 Motorsports and Bass Pro Shops and everybody involved. I can't thank them enough. We've probably got one of the best teams out here."

In striking contrast to a rookie on the pole, qualifying also saw a veteran fail to make the field. Mark Martin, the winningest driver in series history was sent packing as he failed to make the race on speed. Driving for the new Roush Pennzoil team, the driver was 52nd fastest in the No. 9 Chevrolet with a speed of 172.061MPH. With no previous owners points the team was not eligible for a provisional starting spot. In an effort not to let the new sponsor down, Pennzoil decals were quickly added to the Craftsman Truck entry driven by Roush teammate Jon Wood.

The race marked the first event that Kevin Harvick raced under crew chief Ricky Viers. Viers, who lead the effort on the number two Childress entry, switched teams during the off-season. "I think the switch won't be as dramatic as one might think" noted Viers. " Every week at the shop both crews work on both cars. We don't separate until we get to the track. We're still that same team as last year, which helps since we all know each other, and we've already gelled as a team. I'm excited to work with Kevin and Clint."

Veirs former driver Ron Hornaday was also supportive of the swap.

"I have to give Richard (Childress) a lot of credit", said Hornaday. "With the season we had last year, finishing third in points and the owner's championship he won, he could have easily kept things the same. But he knew that both teams really needed a kick-start. 2004 Marks the fifth year that RCR has fielded a Busch effort.

Kyle Busch, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports drive for a team that has the greatest difference in age of owners. Officially, "Papa" Joe Hendrick, father of organizational founder, Rick Hendrick, co-owns the team with grandson Ricky. Ricky Hendrick, who piloted the car in 2002, looks to his grandfather for advice.

The elder Hendrick noted, "I taught him pretty good. I taught him to get out of the car and let someone else drive it and own it." Since following that advice Brian Vickers took the team to a championship, a feat the Kyle Busch is looking to replicate.

Car counts are not a problem on the Busch side of things. The official entry list noted fifty-four cars for the forty three-car fields, validating the prestige of a Daytona win brings teams out for the event.

The purse for the Hershey's kisses 300 is one of the largest in series history, and is only the second time that a purse total in the series has exceeded two million dollars.

Next week the series heads off to Rockingham North Carolina for The Goody's Headache Powder 200.

Jamie McMurray is the defending race winner. McMurray will return to the Busch series for the event, driving a Braun racing entry.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ricky Hendrick , Jon Wood , Jamie McMurray , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports