DARLINGTON, S.C. -- In his quest for the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series
championship, Kyle Busch and his No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet team will be looking
for a repeat of the 2003 fall Darlington event.
Although he didn't win, his second-place finish * combined with teammate Brian Vickers' victory * left the Hendrick Motorsports tandem doing synchronized donuts on the frontstretch.
One might think that history is on Busch's side for Saturday's BI-LO 200, especially considering the No. 5car sat on the pole last spring and visited Victory Lane at Darlington last fall.
Nope. Not at Darlington. At the 1.366-mile oval dubbed "Too Tough To Tame," history sides with the track.
Darlington Raceway, NASCAR's first paved superspeedway, hosted its first race in 1950 and has its own agenda in handing out its famed Darlington stripes. This year, the uniquely egg-shaped track will play a major role in determining this year's NASCAR Busch Series champion.
Points leader Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 8 Wrangler Chevrolet holds a 161-point advantage over Busch, and can clinch the title Saturday if he gains 30 or more points on Busch, leaving Darlington with at least a 191-point lead.
If Truex wins at Darlington, he can clinch the title and give team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. his first-ever owner's championship if Busch finishes fifth or worse without leading a lap, or if Busch finishes sixth or worse and leads a lap.
Of course, it's possible for Truex to lose all except four points of his lead if he finishes last while Busch leads the most laps and wins. Such a scenario would keep Busch in the championship hunt.
"It's hard for me to look at it that way right now, but I think you have to say this season has been incredibly successful, regardless of what happens from here on out," Busch said.
He gained 15 points on Truex at Phonix with his second consecutive second-place finish and broke his third rookie record this season for most laps led in a season (1,089).
The BI-LO 200 is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Darlington Raceway. For tickets, please call 866.459.RACE.