AP Photo/Glenn Smith
Camping World Truck Series: Different year, same results for Busch
Kyle Busch wasn't going to win this one, or at least he shouldn't have. How do you survive a restart with under 10 laps to go without second or third gear?
If you've watched "Rowdy" enough, anything is possible.
Saturday in the Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta, Busch didn't have the fastest truck and, in the closing laps, barely had a transmission. Only first and fourth gear worked on his Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota, and on a restart with eight laps to go he immediately dropped like a stone through the field.
It didn't matter. Busch said he "prayed" there was a fourth gear, and there was, then he put his foot to the floorboard for the final five laps around the treacherous 1.5-mile oval to reclaim the lead and his second win in three Truck starts.
"I don't think that truck would have run another lap, to be honest with you," owner Billy Ballew said. "It was remarkable, but he's a very remarkable driver -- in my opinion the best there is, in any series."
Busch leads the points in the Truck Series, but it's the one series he won't run full time in pursuit of a title. As far as pure winning, though, he's actually ahead of this past year's torrid pace.
Busch notched 21 wins between Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck in 2008 and he has four in four weeks already this year. The circuits have hit Daytona, California, Las Vegas and Atlanta, and each time Busch has left town with a win.
"It's pretty cool," Busch said. "The best time of your life is to win races."
In the Truck Series, Busch has a habit of stealing the early thunder. This season is identical to this past year, with Busch finishing second at Daytona and winning at California and Atlanta, though the second time around is a little more impressive with both wins coming from the pole.
The similarities don't stop there. Todd Bodine, a winner of the past two Daytona races, is second in points after three races, same as this past year. Also, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Chad McCumbee are in the top five again in the early going.
But Busch's dominance overshadows everyone. His 95-laps-led effort at the 100-lap California race was a rout, and the Atlanta finish added to the Busch lore -- and one would have to say there is some kind of lore even for a driver not 24 years old.
Busch has won 11 Truck races in 50 starts with Ballew and 46 throughout NASCAR since 2005.
AMA Supercross: Reed soaring, Stewart stumbling
With a second consecutive week of James Stewart tumbling to the dirt and Chad Reed winning, the momentum has completely shifted in the Supercross season.
Stewart fell while trying to get to the first turn Saturday night at his home-state Daytona International Speedway, and unlike the prior week at Indianapolis he couldn't recover from the early fall. Once Stewart located his Yamaha (it took a few seconds in the pile of bikes and riders), he continued the race but could fight back only to seventh for his first finish off the podium since the season opener.
Reed, the defending series champion, got through the first turn without incident but took a while to get to the front. First-time main-event starter Jason Lawrence, this past year's West Supercross Lites champion, paced an impressive 15 of the 20 laps before ceding the lead to Reed.
Reed and Stewart went into Daytona tied, but now Reed will take an 11-point lead to New Orleans this weekend.
"I feel good about the title chase. I'll take one point -- we got 11," said the Australian, who finished second to Stewart seven straight weeks before his current two-race win streak. "It's a long season and we have a lot of races to go."
John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nationwide Series: Rookies impress
Who knows when, or if, a Nationwide rookie will win a race this year.
Joey Logano did this past season at Kentucky, but with Cup regulars Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch fighting for this year's title and the likes of Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle already stealing wins from part-time seats, there may not be many W's left on the table.
But if the first three races are any indication, a stout rookie class will make an impression nonetheless. Four rookies are in the top 15 in points, led by fourth-place Brendan Gaughan.
Gaughan, the longtime Trucks driver, finished in the top-10 for the second straight week at Las Vegas for Rusty Wallace Racing.
"This is the most fun I've had in racing in a long, long time," the 33-year-old said.
Michael McDowell, a starter in 20 Cup events a year ago, is 10th in points for JTG Daugherty Racing. His sixth-place day at Vegas was a career best in NASCAR competition.
"As a driver, you can't ask for more than to be running up front, and we were all day," Allgaier said. "We are building a solid base and are getting better each week."