Busch and Stremme Give Back to The Short Tracks by Mike Twist
After Winchester Success, Both NASCAR Drivers Make Their Fall Plans
After this past weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, most of the drivers in those divisions enjoyed a rare Sunday off. They spent time with families and maybe took out their boats or Harleys.
Two drivers though were nowhere near the Charlotte area on Sunday. They were in rural Indiana at Winchester Speedway racing cars on their day off and giving a little bit back to short track racing at the same time.
The fans at Winchester waited in line to get autographs from the visiting drivers. (51 Sports Photo)
David Stremme and Kyle Busch finished first and second in the 37th annual Winchester 400. They were both driving Super Late Models for teams that they own and spend their own money on.
It worked too. In addition to their strong finishes, Stremme and Busch put a fair share of fans in the stands at Winchester. A track official estimated after the race that Winchester hosted a crowd that was the largest in 25 years for Sunday’s race.
“Short track racing needs to get bigger,” said Stremme. “You saw all of the people in the stands here and that’s big. This is how I came up and the same with Kyle. That is why we both do this. We’ve got to keep this going.”
And winning, no matter if it is at Daytona or a short track, is nice too.
“That is exactly right,” said Busch after the Winchester race. “If I wasn’t here to race, I wouldn’t be as disappointed as I am to finish second. I’m happy that we finished the race, but I’m disappointed to not win. That is what we came here for.”
Owning their own short track teams gives both drivers more control over what it takes to win. For decades, Cup drivers have hopped into pick-up rides at short tracks throughout the country with varying results. But even though that approach might be better financially for Stremme and Busch, it isn’t what they want to do.
“It would probably be more fun to hop into someone else’s car and not spend a dime to get here,” said Busch. “But we spend plenty.”
Corey Williams went to victory lane at Orange County (NC) in a 2007 ASA Late Model Series race, driving a David Stremme car.
“Even with winning and all the other stuff, we probably just broke even with all of the planes and stuff this weekend,” said Stremme after his Winchester victory.
While both Stremme and Busch have won in their own equipment, they have also handed the keys to their racecars to some young talent as well with winning results. Corey Williams has won in the ASA Late Model Series for Stremme’s team and Alex Haase has won in PASS South, and T.J. Brackett has won in weekly competition at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME), for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“That is what I’m building my program to do and now that I have my Cup stuff taken care of, I can do more of that,” said Stremme about driver development. “Guys gave me a chance and it’s tough for kids coming up now without money to go and race because it takes a lot of money to do this stuff. So we’re going to try and build this program to get some people in the car and show what they can do.”
Busch and Stremme have built up a friendship by racing against each other on short tracks.
“We respect one another and we’re good friends,” said Stremme. “A know a lot of people don’t like him, but he’s one of the best in the business and he helps me out a lot.”
Busch also kids around with his NASCAR buddy, who is moving back into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season after a year in the Nationwide Series this season.
“David hasn’t run 500 miles lately, but he’ll get a taste of that next year,” joked Busch after Stremme looked a little tired when the Winchester 400 was completed.
So what is next for the two NASCAR drivers who raced at Winchester? Just like many short trackers out there, both are making plans for a few big fall races.
Kyle Busch has won this year a few times as an owner with his driver Alex Haase (pictured above) driving in the PASS South Series. (51 Sports Photo)
“We’ll probably put Travis Sauter in the car at Nashville,” said Stremme, referring to next month’s All-American 400.
“We’re going to run Kenly, North Carolina in the PASS South Series,” said Busch, referring to an event scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. “I’ll be in that race.”
But one place Busch won’t be racing at is in this year’s Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
“I won’t be there,” said Busch. “The [NASCAR Sprint Cup] banquet and the Derby are the same weekend again. If they ever figured that out, there would be more Cup guys there probably. But they want to keep that first weekend of December and so does NASCAR. So you’ve got two big heads battling it out.”
And as far as a return to the Winchester 400 goes, it looks like if their schedules allow it, both Busch and Stremme will be back for their third straight 400s in 2009.
“I’d like to come back and make it two in a row,” said Stremme. “But if I come back, it’s not about winning. It’s about helping [track owner] Charlie [Shaw] out. He has helped me out a lot throughout my career. He was the reason that I came back.”
“I’ll probably come back,” said Busch. “I don’t see why not. As long as the economy is alright and I’m still making money, I’ll be here.”