By Joe Dunn
For two weeks in Charlotte NASCAR was all about the Busch brothers. Older brother Kurt winning two NASCAR Sprint Cup races while younger brother Kyle dominated both the Camping World Truck race and the Nationwide Series race.
The brothers dominated the month of May, winning four out of five Cup races and Kyle winning two of three Nationwide Series races, and one of the three Truck races. As the three series each goes their separate way this weekend, the brothers won’t be able to dominate all the races. With the Cup series in Pocono, Nationwide at Nashville and the Trucks headed to Texas, no Busch will be at Nashville. The folks at Joe Gibbs racing announced earlier that Kyle will not run all the NNS races this year, this will be the first race without Kyle, who sits one point behind Brad Keselowski in the series standing. The absence of Busch opens the door for a three way battle between Keselowski, Harvick and Edwards, and series regular Justin Allgaier pushes on in his quest for a championship. Despite the experience of the Cup regulars, Allgaier has shown his grit and determination running with the big guns.
In the Cup Series, Denny Hamlin is the favorite with the best ratings of all current drivers at Pocono. Kurt Busch comes in second in the rankings while Kyle ranks seventeenth at the tricky ‘Roval’. Based on the last four years at the Pennsylvania track, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards round out the top five rated drivers. But the momentum surely favors Kurt Busch, while Johnson is in desperate need of a change of luck and performance. Of course Johnson is joined by Stewart and Edwards in the less than stellar finishes of late, so it looks like Hamlin and Kurt Busch should be the class of the field. Of course, this is Pocono, an oddball track compared to the rest on the circuit and one that usually produces an unexpected winner.
Hamlin rebounded from his knee surgery and a long poor performance at Phoenix by winning at Texas and Darlington, but the back to back wins by Kurt Busch gives him the edge here. Baring the an oddball dark horse, the battle up front should include both Hamlin and Busch.
Heading into the eighth race of Truck series at Texas, we have another series that has been dominated by two Cup regulars. Of the seven races so far, four have been won by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Busch will not compete at Texas Motor Speedway Friday as Johnny Benson will pilot the No. 18 KBM Toyota. Benson moved into the No. 18 to replace Brian Ickler who moved to Roush Fenway Racing to drive in the NNS. The No. 56 team of KBM, which has been driven by Taylor Malsam, will shut down for the remainder of the 2010 season. Malsam received an offer from Braun racing and will be at Nashville to drive the No. 10 car in the NNS race Saturday.
As the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads into Nashville this weekend, series sponsor Nationwide Insurance is joined by the Nashville Superspeedway and several of the teams in an effort to raise money for the victims of the recent floods that devastated a large section of Nashville. Nationwide Insurance started the ball rolling by donating $100,000.00 for relief efforts while offering matching funds to several local fundraising efforts. Many of the NNS teams have been gathering donated items for flood victims and will be flying together to Nashville prior to the race to present those donations. At the track on race day, there will be a driver autograph session where fans will be asked to donate canned goods or cash to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of middle Tennessee. A pre race silent auction at the track will feature racing memorabilia donated by various NNS teams. After the race there will be an on line auction hosted by the NASCAR Foundation that will feature top line NASCAR memorabilia as well as items donated by various country music stars. Highlighted items will include a guitar signed by Taylor Swift and another custom designed by Sam Bass. The online auction will continue until the August 7th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville. For more information and a list of auction items visit the track website at www.nashvillesuperspeedway.com