NASCAR boys deserve week off

Mar 22, 2005 9:36 AM

It’s hard to feel pity for any group of major sports professional athletes, but you have to feel at least something for the Nextel Cup teams and their travel schedule.

Following this weekend’s off week, they’ll race through Nov. 20 with only one more idle weekend.

The only major NASCAR series running this week is the Busch Series. They’ll take the spotlight in one of the most fun cities in the world, Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. There will only be a handful of Nextel Cup drivers participating in this weekend’s honky-tonk.

Busch Series point leader and now a Nextel Cup race winner, Carl Edwards (7-2), will again be the favorite. Last weekend was something the young driver will never forget. For the first time ever, the same driver won both the Atlanta Busch and Cup race back to back. Not only does Edwards lead the Busch points, but sits third in the Nextel Cup series.

Nashville Superspeedway is very similar to the Las Vegas track in banking, but has no equal when comparing its shape, distance, and surface.

The track is a 1.33 mile D-shaped oval with a concrete surface. Michael Waltrip won last year’s race, with the car Edwards will be driving this week, The No. 60 Roush Racing Ford, had engine troubles with Greg Biffle driving it.

Joining the Palms and Station Casinos Sports Books as the only books in Las Vegas to book the Busch Series races weekly is The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

It’s another example of how far NASCAR come in terms of popularity when three major books are offering odds on what essentially is a minor league or second division.

The weirdest part of all this is not that they book it, but that they actually have a regular stream of players betting it.

NEXTEL NOTES

Four of the Five Roush Nextel Cup drivers are currently in the top 5 in points — an amazing accomplishment. The only driver failing to join them is 2003 Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth who just can’t seem to get it going.

”¡ Both Biffle and Edwards have wins, giving Roush and Ford two victories against the Hendrick Chevy entry of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

The Johnson-Gordon combo also have two wins. Expect both of those teams to pile on wins, at least until NASCAR makes some changes to the spoiler rule.

Dale Earnhardt Jr continues to struggle with no answers on the horizon.

”¡ It was nice to see Dodge and particularly Kasey Kahne to have a nice run last week in Atlanta with a fifth place finish. Childress also showed some signs of breaking through with Dave Blaney and Jeff Burton having solid runs.

I would love to see that sweet Black Jack No. 07 car be a player on race day. Teams still looking to find their way, after a slow start to the 2005 campaign, are DEI, Gibbs, Ganassi and, as always, Petty.

”¡ Next week, the Cup drivers are headed to Bristol where Kurt Busch has won the past three years.

Busch is the early favorite, but don’t expect to see your regular cast of favorites as top choices to win. Quite possibly we could see Mark Martin or Rusty Wallace, take the checkers on their farewell tour.

Wallace knows he has a limited opportunity to win and Bristol is one place he can. Station Casinos has Wallace at 30-1 to win the points title in his NASCAR farewell season.