2009-03-12 / Sports

Kurt, "The Other" Busch, Wins At Atlanta

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Kurt Busch Kurt Busch HAMPTON, Ga. - Kurt Busch won Sunday's Kobalt 500 at Atlanta in dramatic fashion for his first win of 2009.

Kurt, the other half of the Kurt and Kyle Busch racing family out of Las Vegas, led 232 laps of the 325-lap race, including the last lap of an overtime shootout.

Busch was leading the race over Brian Vickers when a caution came out with four laps remaining. Busch and most of the leaders pitted for tires and a splash of fuel. Carl Edwards took only two right side tires while Busch, Gordon and Vickers got four fresh tires.

Edwards beat Busch and Gordon out of the pit. When the final restart was given on the green/white/checkered restart, it was Edwards, Busch and Gordon in that order.

Busch quickly got by Edwards. Gordon was also able to get by Edwards, and for a moment or two, it looked like Gordon might be closing on Busch's blue No. 2 Dodge, but he was never able to challenge for the lead.

Busch celebrated his victory lap by driving backwards around the 1.5-mile track.

"Good things come to those who wait," said Busch. "This car was incredible. We've found a good package to start off 2009."

"I've got to hold up my end of the bargain because Kyle is on the gas right now."

"I want to thank Carl and Jeff for racing me clean there at the end. When you beat those two guys here at Atlanta, you've got to really handle."

Jeff Gordon finished second and remains the Sprint Cup points leader. It was his third top- 10 finish this season.

"This race team is really stepping it up," said Gordon. "With the fire in their eye and the things they've been working on back in the shop and setups that match my driving style have been awesome."

"We've had some small issues, like last week with the fender and this week with the clutch, but these guys are flawless, they aren't skipping a beat."

The third-place finisher, Carl Edwards, got his first top five of the season.

"I wish we had four tires, but I thought maybe they would throw the green flag and then the yellow flag, which would have ended the race, and I had rather be out front in a situation like that," said Edwards.

At one point, it appeared Vickers was almost equal to Busch, but his last pit stop was a disaster. He went in second and came out seventh.

Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Martin Truex Jr. were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was unable to run with the leaders and finished 13th.

Polesitter Mark Martin wound up 31st.

Top- 12 Chase leaders after 4 of 36: 1. J. Gordon-634, 2. Bowyer- 591, 3. Kurt Busch-588, 4. Edwards 547, 5. Kenseth-546, 6. Stewart-521, 7. Kyle Busch-514, 8. Harvick-511, 9. Kahne-484, 10. Biffle-480, 11. Vickers-477, 12. Reutimann 475

Busch wins another truck race

Kyle Busch's win Saturday in the Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta was his second of the season. After just three races, he has two wins and two poles in the series. Top-10 leaders after 3 of 25: 1. Kyle Busch-560, 2. Bodine 535, 3. Skinner-441, 4. Hornaday 436, 5. McCumbee-426, 6. Crafton-423, 7. Cook-413, 8. Bell-412, 9. Peters-406, 10. Starr- 384

The trucks need more meat and potatoes

"If you're addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can go to a clinic and get help," Billy Jenkins, of Baltimore, Md., wrote in an email, "But where can you go if you're addicted to truck racing?"

Sorry, Billy, you'll have to talk to the France family, owners of the series.

Billy, like many fans, have come to view the Camping World Truck Series as the most exciting series in NASCAR racing.

But like the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, they too have problems, maybe even greater than the other two.

It's all about money. For truck owners, the big money hasn't drifted down to them.

The season started with only 10 fully-funded truck teams.

While the trucks do not run as many laps in races as cars, and only have a 25-race schedule, their operating costs still run into several millions of dollars.

And one of the problems is the payouts they receive.

Consider this: The Cup cars ran 160 laps in the Daytona 500. Matt Kenseth, the winner, took home $1,536,388. Joey Logano, the last place Cup finisher received $317,720.

Now, let's look at the Camping World race that was run two days before. The winner, Todd Bodine, ran 100 laps. He took home $93,750. Wayne Edwards, the lastplace truck team received $13,195.

How pitiful. It's like running for the fun of it.

The truck owners had to bring full teams, which meant transportation to and from Charlotte, housing, uniforms, and meals.

Rick Crawford operates two Camping World teams. He drives the No. 14 and James Buescher drives the No. 10. They finished 21st and 25th, respectively. Takehome pay for both teams was a whopping $33,060.

According to Crawford, he had only a couple thousand dollars left over after paying the tire bill. For you fans that might not know it, the Goodyear tires are priced at more than $400 each.

How much do you think it cost to feed, clothe, and house 25 team members for five days?

You can only do so much with love. The truck guys are struggling. They need more meat and potatoes.

The money just isn't there. Truck teams do not have the same level of recognition as the other two series.

Something has to be done.

It's time NASCAR gave some straight talk about the trucks, so fans like Billy Jenkins can make plans to find help for his addiction.

Weekend racing: There is no racing next weekend. It is an off week for all three NASCAR touring series. The next racing venue will be March 21 and 22 at Bristol.

Racing trivia question: Where is Robby Gordon's home town?

Last week's question: Who were the four teams that won 32 of the 36 races last year? Answer. Hendrick Racing, Joe Gibbs, Roush-Fenway, and Richard Childress.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@earthlink.net.

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