By: Ashley McCubbin
Photo By: Nigel Kinrade | Nigel Kinrade Photography
Although all of the NASCAR action is currently put on hold, there’s one thing you cannot forget – the drivers will be ready to chase after Kyle Busch for the bounty when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series returns to the track.
Let’s recap, shall we?
Following Busch’s victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick declared a $50,000 bounty for any NASCAR Cup Series driver who could beat Busch in the Truck Series. The numbers continued to climb when Gander RV & Outdoor Owner Marcus Lemonis announced he would match the number.
“It’s going to be interesting, exciting, whatever you want to term it,” Busch said. “I guess Cup drivers in Truck Series do sell tickets so take that for what it’s worth. It’s a unique opportunity for more attention on the series, which is good. Maybe if more drivers had more teams then had rides then there would be something else there than just myself.”
The bounty came about on Twitter when it was instilled by fans that it was easy for Busch to win these races, and grew when Kyle Larson tweeted a series of cherries, almost like “cherry picking” his victories.
“I love what Kyle Busch does with his truck teams, and I talked to Kyle Larson about his three cherries – I thought he was kind of picking on [Busch], and I didn’t realize he gets the same treatment when he runs the dirt car,” Harvick said. “We’re going to have fun with it.”
Harvick is trying to prove a point ultimately in that everybody cannot simply match what Busch has done thus far, and the “70 to 80 families of those he employs” certainly appreciate his involvement.
Busch has been unbeatable as of late in the series, winning the last seven straight events that he has competed in.
“We certainly work really, really hard,” Busch said after winning in Vegas. “It wasn’t like we unloaded and knew we had a great piece and that we were going to go out there and dominate like that. We work for it, these guys do. All the preparation at the shop comes a long way with Danny (Stockman, crew chief), with Rudy (Fugle, No. 18 crew chief), with Mike Hillman Jr. (No. 4 crew chief). It’s just been really cool to get the equipment going that we have now. Obviously the talent that we have now.
“Our groups of guys, the core of them have been together now for a long time. It’s nice to keep some familiarity around KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) with the faces that are there and bring in some experience to help facilitate growing the 51 team too a top notch team.”
While winning in his own equipment, he has helped develop young talents, with both Erik Jones and Christopher Bell winning championships in his equipment.
After spending last season driving for him, Harrison Burton says Busch’s precision behind the wheel – hardly making mistakes, always fast – makes him very hard to beat.
“There’s guys who are super-fast all the time, but they sometimes slip up and miss parts and you can take advantage of that,” he commented. “Then there’s guys who are so worried about hitting their marks that they are not quite as fast on a lap time. Kyle is a mix of both. He’s someone that is going to hit his marks and be fast and he doesn’t make mistakes that he used to. He cannot make mistakes that he used to. What makes him good is experience I think as well. He’s got a leg up as well on me in that department for sure. I think he’s naturally talented and when you combine that with the work ethic and experience, then you get good results.”
The first driver to beat Busch collects the bounty, with no more money up for the grabs in the weeks that follow. If Busch can beat his fellow competitors through the four races that he is set to run this year – Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 14), Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 20), Texas Motor Speedway (March 27), and Kansas Speedway (May 30), his charity Bundle of Joy Fund will receive the money.
Initially, the series regulars felt left out but fear no more as Chris Larsen of Halmart International (co-owner for Stewart Friesen) solved the problem, putting up $50,000 to any truck series regular who wins the race (and $25,000 to the Kyle Busch Foundation if Busch wins).
The first event was set to take place at Atlanta Motor Speedway, before the event was ultimately postponed upon team’s arriving at the track. Chase Elliott was scheduled to challenge behind the wheel of the No. 24 Hooters Spirits / Hooters Chevrolet for GMS Racing. Elliott also had locked in the Kansas Speedway event on May 30 for a second chance, too.
Other drivers on the entry list at Atlanta include John Hunter Nemechek (Nemco Motorsports) and Brennan Poole (On Point Motorsports).
The next race was originally scheduled for March 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kyle Larson was set to jump behind the wheel for GMS Racing, joined by Poole and Erik Jones (Wauters Motorspots).
With NASCAR postponing events thru May 3 (including Atlanta, Homestead and Texas), it could certainly change the landscape of the bounty. The series plans to make-up of all the events missed, but has not revealed the plans to do so, instead just revealing that they’ll exhaust options available ranging from scheduled off-weekends, double headers, to mid-week races.
Though once these events do take place, they will certainly be ones that you tune in for.
Categories: NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series