Beating Around The Busch By Thomas Chemris Chapter 6: Vegas provided controversy and excitement The third race of the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series is history as the drivers and crews will get a week off before heading out to Darlington. Vegas...
Beating Around The Busch
By Thomas Chemris
Chapter 6: Vegas provided controversy and excitement
The third race of the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series is history as the drivers and crews will get a week off before heading out to Darlington.
Vegas provided controversy and excitement.
The weekend brought success for the trio of Iron men, who are running full time in NASCAR's Busch and cup series. Khane, Biffle and Sauter continue to find success while running full time schedules in both the Busch and cup series.
Kasey Khane, who is making a habit of close, finishes scored a runner up position under the guidance of interim crew chief Jamie Jones. Khane headed into the season with Tim Shutt on top of the pit box, but Shutt abruptly left the team prior to Daytona. Running two events by crew chief by committee the Akins Motorsports team struggled. If the success at Vegas is any indication it looks like Jones has found a home. Khane's performance moved him up fourteen positions to sit twentieth in the overall standings.
Greg Biffle finished tenth, after getting together with David Green at the start finish line. "David Green is one of the cleanest drivers in the Busch Series, noted Biffle. "I hate it that we got together. We don't need to wreck race cars racing for tenth" Biffle moved up seven spots to land the fourteenth spot in points race.
Johnny Sauter ran strong but got together with Matt Kenseth late in the race. By virtue of the incident, Sauter saw a top five-finish turn to sixteenth place. Sauter remains the highest placed full time Busch driver in the standings; he currently sits in second, seventy points behind Kevin Harvick.
Kyle Busch, despite two stop and go penalties managed a fifteenth place finish in front of the hometown crowd: to be the highest finishing rookie in the race. Busch was penalized the first time for jumping a re-start, and then again for serving his penalty in a closed pit.
I thought that I seen the leader go", said Busch. " I'm not sure, I might want to see the film, but I thought I saw the leader go and when the leader goes that means the green is out so I went to the top. I wouldn't have sacrificed the right side of my car on the wall if I didn't think the green was out. It's just one of them deals."
Vegas marked the debut of USAC superstar JJ Yeley for Joe Gibbs Racing. Yeley had a strong qualifying run, starting seventh, quickly fell through the field to finish twenty-third, two laps down.
We made some changes from yesterday, just fighting a loose race car and the racetrack tightened up a ton", said Yeley. "The thing is still in one piece and we can go to the wind tunnel next week so I'm real happy about it."
The event also marked the debut of Rusty Wallace Racing with driver Billy parker. Parker qualified fifteenth, and finished twenty-eighth. Parker indicated the team was satisfied with its first effort, and attributed the team's success to the car owner. "Rusty is a big help", noted Parker. " I've got my brother, my crew chief, and all the guys. I known Kevin Lepage for a while and he's really tried to help me out so I've got a lot of guys that I can go to. But Rusty is a huge help. He knows everything that happening and what's going on. He's already been through it so he shortcuts everything for us and he tells me what to expect and gets me through it."
Ron Hornaday, who finished twenty-sixth at Vegas, saw his string of top ten finishes at the Speedway come to an end. Prior to the event, Hornaday has competed in seven events at the track in all three of NASCAR's top series, never finishing outside the top ten.
Series Veteran Jason Keller, who finished eighth at Las Vegas, has moved past Dale Jarrett for sole possession of third place in all time series starts. Keller who made his 325th start sits behind Tommy Houston (417) and Elton Sawyer (392). "I am extremely honored to be a part of the NASCAR Busch series for as long as I have been", said Keller. "The NASCAR Busch series has been a great home for ten years, it is just part of my life."
New Jersey's Martin Truex Jr continues to be successful. Qualifying forth, Truex drove to a fourteenth place finish, moving him up one position to eighth in the points chase. Truex marked his first start at Vegas, indicating he liked the excitement of the dessert city. "First of all, we are talking about Las Vegas, where there is excitement 24 hours a day, seven days a week", noted the Jersey native. " I want to do all my winning at the track. That was my first trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I really like the layout of the track. It did not take long for me to get comfortable."
Bobby Hamilton Jr remains critical of "Busch Whackers". In commenting on the subject, Hamilton said," There's not a lot you can say. I thought this was the Busch Series and that over there was the NEXTEL Cup Series. I'm not concerned seeing them up in the standings right now because they're not going to win the championship." Hamilton dominated early at Vegas, but fell back and then rallied to finish fifth, moving up four positions to third in the points.
NASCAR announced that series driver Kevin Grubb has been suspended indefinitely for violating the sanctioning bodies substance abuse policy. Grubb, who last competed full time in the series for Brewco Motorsports has spent the last two seasons running partial schedules for various teams. He was slated to drive a second entry for Rensi Motorsports part time in 2004. Team Rensi has now put those plans on hold. NASCAR President Mike Helton commented on the suspension by saying, "NASCAR has zero tolerance for any type of behavior that is in violation of our Substance Abuse Policy. We have a moral responsibility to protect the integrity of our sport." Grubb is the third driver suspended by NASCAR in eighteen months joining Brian Rose and Shane Hmiel.