02/24/08
Busch is Best in Cali

Kyle Busch finished in the top five three times last weekend at Daytona without making it to Victory Lane but he wasted no time putting one in the win column at California Speedway.

Busch strapped into Billy Ballew’s Toyota for the second Craftsman Truck Series of the season and it was pretty clear that the competition didn’t stand much of a chance.

Showers washed out qualifying and lined up the field according to the rulebook which put Busch 20th on the starting grid. Daytona winner Todd Bodine took early control of the lead after a fuel-only stop during the first caution. He led 25 laps in his bid to go back-to-back but Busch led twice as many and sealed the deal after a late round of green flag pit stops For Busch it was a case of delayed vindication. Seven years ago he was bounced from the sport after a mid-season policy change that banned drivers under the age of 18 from competition.

“This is kind of crazy but this win here probably means the absolute most,” said Busch, “In November 2001 I got kicked out of this race track and I wasn’t able to run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series,” said Busch. “I probably could have sat on the pole and won the race that weekend, too, so this is pretty bittersweet here.

“Here’s the start, hopefully, to a three-peat this weekend.”

Bodine, who saw Kyle Busch in his rearview mirror as he took the checkers at Daytona, is already focused on the big picture with just two races in the books.

“Right at the end there I could actually run times faster than Kyle,” Bodine explained. “But every once in a while, I would slip and he would pull back away. First last week and second this week, that is how you win championships.”

Johnny Benson pulled off a third place finish even though he had to start the hundred-lapper at the rear of the field.

“To tell you the truth, we didn’t do a whole lot (to the truck),” said Benson. “We did a little bit of air pressure and everything was so tight from where we started we couldn’t afford to take too much time on pit road making adjustments. We got just two tires there at the end and probably picked up a spot doing that. It was a good day for us.”

Terry Cook’s fourth place finish was a career best at the 2.0-mile speedway and defending champion Ron Hornaday celebrated the return to his native California with a fifth.

Busch holds the early lead in the point standings but knows his lofty position is temporary since he’s just a part-timer. Bodine is ranked second, 20 points back, and is followed by Johnny Benson, David Starr and Rick Crawford.

The Truck Series will take next weekend off and then get back to business at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Mar. 7.