Taking a look at the Busch Grand National Series points standings it is obvious that Carl Edwards is running away with the championship and basically has already wrapped it up only a third of the way into the season. Edwards is an astounding 433 points ahead of second place Kevin Harvick, a fellow Buschwacker, who won the Busch Series championship the previous season. Following Edwards and Harvick in the standings are David Reutimann, Dave Blaney, Matt Kenseth, and David Ragan in positions third through sixth. Every driver in the top six positions in the Busch Series standings is essentially Buschwacking as they are all attempting to run the full Nextel Cup season.
This might seem crazy, but it turns out that the "true" Busch Series leader is a little known, Busch Series veteran with five series wins, and a failed previous attempt at a Nextel Cup job. Bobby Hamilton Jr., driver of the McDonald's #35 Team Rensi Motorsports Ford is 706 points behind Edwards for the points lead, stuck in seventh place, but he is actually the first Busch Series regular in the standings.
Hamilton Jr. has been around racing for years and comes from a racing family. His father, Bobby Hamilton, who recently passed away of cancer is a former NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series champion. Hamilton Jr. has competed full-time in all three NASCAR series. Hamilton Jr. hasn't run up front much this year and has compiled just one top ten finish in the Series first twelve events, but with all of the drivers coming over from the Nextel Cup Series for their leisurely Saturday drives Hamilton Jr. really hasn't had the chance to drive up front very often. It really is a testament to the toughness of Hamilton Jr. and his team as they and Regan Smith (who is running a partial Nextel Cup season) are the only Busch regulars in the Busch Series top ten. The Busch Series top twenty in the championship standings only includes six Busch Series regulars: Hamilton Jr., Smith, Marcos Ambrose, Mike Wallace, Stephen Leicht, and Jason Leffler.
This is a exactly why NASCAR should mandate a rule that limits the number of races a Nextel Cup driver can compete in the Busch Series. Some propose that Nextel Cup drivers should be limited to ten or less Busch Series races a year, but it would be a big boost to the Busch Series if NASCAR limited the Nextel Cup drivers to as many as twenty Busch Races a year. Even if a Buschwacker were to run twenty Busch Series races a year there would be no way possible for them to win the championship, thus letting the Busch Series regulars shine in their series.
If NASCAR is going to continue letting this many Nextel Cup drivers run full Busch Series schedules than it would also make some sense to hand out two trophies at the season's end to celebrate the season of the champion and the "true" Busch Series champion. If things continue the way they are going this season than Bobby Hamilton Jr. would indeed be the "true" Busch Series champion, but no one would know it.
By: Julian Spivey (SNL)