Most anticipated NASCAR Busch Series season ready to begin DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2005) -- In past seasons, the fact Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 81 Ritz/Oreo Chevrolet) is seeking his fourth straight NASCAR Busch Series season-opening win --...
Most anticipated NASCAR Busch Series season ready to begin
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2005) -- In past seasons, the fact Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 81 Ritz/Oreo Chevrolet) is seeking his fourth straight NASCAR Busch Series season-opening win -- and his fourth straight series win at Daytona International Speedway -- would dominate all headlines. Indeed, Earnhardt is vying to reach a Daytona plateau achieved only by his father, Dale Earnhardt, who won five consecutive NASCAR Busch Series season-openers at the famed venue.
But as the 24th season of NASCAR Busch Series competition prepares to begin with Saturday's Hershey's Take 5 "300". Earnhardt Jr. is just one of many intriguing storylines in what is arguably the most anticipated year in series history.
To start, the season begins with the most lucrative race purse ever in the NASCAR Busch Series -- over $2.4 million.
Next, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) -- whose team is owned by Earnhardt Jr. -- returns as the defending NASCAR Busch Series champion. Truex made a stunning debut in his first series visit to Daytona last year when he won the pole for this event. Now, he'll attempt to become the first series champion to repeat since Earnhardt in 1998-99.
Truex, 24, headlines a talented group of young drivers who will compete fulltime in the NASCAR Busch Series this season. Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), Ryan Hemphill (No. 4 GEICO/Pet Brands Dodge), Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet), Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge), Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/Wisk Ford) and J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet) are just a few of the drivers prepared for this next step.
Team and manufacturer changes have reinvigorated key NASCAR Busch Series veterans. David Green (No. 27 Kleenex/Scott Brand Ford), the 1994 series champion, switches from Chevrolet to Ford while remaining in the BREWCO Motorsports camp. Kenny Wallace takes his Stacker 2 sponsorship to a new team -- ppc Racing -- and also switches to Ford. Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonalds Ford) joins with Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) to give Team Rensi Motorsports a viable duo.
Green, Wallace, Keller and Lewis all return after posting Top 10 finishes in the 2004 point standings. Another top-10 finisher David Stremme (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Dodge), also returns along with 2001 series champion Greg Biffle, who will split time in the No. 66 Duraflame Ford with Aaron Fike.
The NASCAR Busch Series will make history this year when it travels to Mexico City's famed Autodromo Hermanos Rodgriguez for the March 6 Telcel Motorola 200 presented by Banamex. It's a road-course event that marks the series' first points race held outside the United States and also the return of the series to road-course racing for the first time since 2001 at Watkins Glen.
The NASCAR Busch Series will hold its second road-course event at The Glen in August.
International stars such as Adrian Fernandez, who will drive Hendricks Motorsports' No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet in the race, and Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 10 ppc Racing Ford), who comes to the NASCAR Busch Series from Champ Car competition, will compete against NASCAR Busch Series regulars and select drivers from the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Jourdain Jr. will compete fulltime for ppc Racing in 2005, becoming the first Hispanic driver to run a full schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Last season, the NASCAR Busch Series produced 15 different winners, 18 different races with finishes under one second and an average of 11 lead changes per event. Some 2.5 million fans attended NASCAR Busch Series events in 2004, while 70 million viewers tuned in to series races on television.