Final short-track race of season key to Busch's championship hopes DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 20, 2004) - Memphis Motorsports Park is the site of the final short-track race of the NASCAR Busch Series season, and despite its three-quarters mile ...
Final short-track race of season key to Busch's championship hopes
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 20, 2004) - Memphis Motorsports Park is the site of the final short-track race of the NASCAR Busch Series season, and despite its three-quarters mile distance, it could go a long way in deciding the outcome of the 2004 series championship.
Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet), second in the points standings, has a 2.6 average finish in five short-track races this year, bolstered by two victories; at Richmond in May - his first career series win - and at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August. Additionally, he has one pole, five top five and five top-10 finishes among his short-track results. He has also made gains - minimal, but still gains - totaling eight points on the lead in the last two races.
Singularly, those are simply items of note. Combined, however, they may offer cause for concern for Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), the championship leader for the past 15 race weeks.
Not only has Busch gained on Truex in back-to-back races for the first time since Michigan and Bristol, but Truex finds himself behind Busch in overall short-track outcomes this year.
Truex has hardly been unproductive at venues under one-mile this season with one win - at Bristol in May - along with three top fives and five top 10s. But it's his rival, Busch, who has been more successful at these particular tracks, which bodes well for the 19-year-old Las Vegas native at this late stage of the year.
"We've gained some points, but we need to gain a lot more every week from here on out," Busch said. "We're going to dig as hard as we can and we'll see where we're at when we get to [the season finale at] Homestead. With five races to go, the biggest deficit a driver has overcome to win the championship was 100 points by Randy LaJoie in 1996.
"If we can stay out of trouble at Memphis, I think we've got a good chance to gain some more points, but these short-track races are tough," he said. "It's really easy to get caught up in something."
Both Busch and Truex have been fortunate this season ¡V between the two of them, there is but one DNF, that belonging to Busch in the season-opener at Daytona due to overheating.
"I had never done well at short tracks, so I told Lance (McGrew, crew chief) before the season started that we were going to struggle at those places," Busch said. "I'm glad my preseason prediction about struggling at the short tracks was wrong."