Pony Car Talk

NASCAR looking for ways to differentiate the Busch Series

At the Busch race in Texas, 11 of the top 15 finishers were Nextel regulars.
NASCAR continues to look for a way to differentiate the Busch Series from the

premiere Nextel Cup Series, in answer to critics who suggest Busch has become Cup Lite, with near-identical cars and a plethora of invading Nextel Cup drivers.

One possible way: Change the Busch Series cars from sedans to the manufacturers’ “pony” cars—the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Toyota Solara.

Sound farfetched? It isn’t.

“It’s under discussion with NASCAR,” said John Fernandez, director of Dodge’s racing operation. “It isn’t to what I’d consider the serious stage, but it is under discussion.”

Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, said, “We’ve discussed it. And I’d like to see it. We need to do something about the Busch Series.”

Given the production schedule of the Camaro and Challenger, it is unlikely those cars would be able to enter the Busch Series before the 2008 season, with 2009 a more likely scenario. By then Nextel Cup’s Car of Tomorrow redesign should be in place. One scenario would have the Busch pony cars built on modified platforms from the Nextel Cup cars used now, thus helping team owners who say the Car of Tomorrow seriously reduces the value of the old cars.

Manufacturers are hoping that if it happens, NASCAR will allow the pony car racers

to resemble their production counterparts, with parity achieved through front and rear spoiler adjustment and weight. It’s also possible the reinvented Busch cars could be the first to use fuel injection.

The change would also limit the value of running the Saturday Busch race to gain data for the Sunday Nextel Cup race, one reason many Nextel Cup regulars, called “Buschwhackers,” have invaded the Busch series. At the Busch race in Texas, 11 of the top 15 finishers were Nextel regulars, with the top Busch regular Paul Menard coming in seventh.

HARVICK TAKES NASHVILLE BUSCH RACE Points-leader Kevin Harvick beat fellow Chevrolet drivers Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley, and Ford driver Carl Edwards in the Pepsi NASCAR Busch Series 300

at Nashville Superspeedway.

It is the eighth consecutive victory by Nextel Cup drivers this year and the sixth time they finished top-five in a Busch race.