NASCAR Busch Series logo
The Busch Series is a stock car racing series owned and operated by NASCAR. It is NASCAR's second division (often compared to Triple-A baseball), and is a proving ground for drivers who wish to step up to the organization's top level, the Nextel Cup.
The series emerged from NASCAR's old Sportsman division, which was formed in 1950 as NASCAR's short track race division. It became the Late Model Sportsman series in 1968, and soon featured races on larger tracks, such as Daytona International Speedway.
The modern-day Busch Series was formed in 1982, when Anheuser-Busch sponsored a newly reformed late-model sportsman series with its Budweiser brand. It switched sponsorship to the Busch brand in 1984, and in 1986, was renamed from the Sportsman series to the Busch Grand National Series. Grand National was dropped from the series' title in 2003.
The Busch Series Today
The cars used today in the Busch Series are slightly different versions of their Nextel Cup counterparts, the main differences being a slightly shorter wheelbase (105" instead of 110") and a larger spoiler (57" wide x 5.75" high instead of 55" x 4.5"). In the past, Busch Series competitors could use makes of cars not used in the Cup series, as well as V-6 engines instead of Cup's V-8s, but the cars used in the series now are very similar.
On March 6, 2005, the Busch Series held its first race outside the United States, the Telcel-Motorola 200. The race was held in Mexico City, Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a track that had previously held Formula One and Champ Car races in the past, and was won by Martin Truex Jr..
Beginning in 2007, ABC, ESPN and sibling network ESPN2 will be the exclusive carrier of all Busch Series races, currently shown on FOX, FX, TNT and NBC. Some sponsors have cricitised the new television deal, noting a maximum of four races will appear on broadcast network television, and most likely none in prime-time; in recent years, as many as nine races in the Busch Series have aired on network television, with two 2005 races ending up in prime-time television.
Busch Series cars use fuel that contains lead. NASCAR will conduct a three-race test of unleaded fuel in this series beginning with the July 29, 2006 race at Gateway International Raceway. Leaded fuel will return after that while NASCAR reviews the data collected during the test.
Once the Car of Tomorrow is implemented in the Nextel Cup series, NASCAR will begin work on changing the cars run in the Busch Series. NASCAR has been approached by manufacturers about using differently shaped and named car models as the basis for the cars in the Busch Series when this change is made. NASCAR has been receptive to the idea.
Since the early days of the Busch Series, many Cup drivers have used their days off to drive in the Busch Series. This can be for any number of reasons, most prominent or often claimed is to gain more "seat time", or to familiarize themselves with the track. Examples of this would be the first ever winner of a Busch Series race, Dale Earnhardt, and the winner of the most races in Busch Series history, Mark Martin. In recent years, this practice has been termed "Buschwhacking" by those that criticize the practice, claiming that Cup drivers racing in the Busch Series takes away opportunities from the Busch Series regulars, drivers that are usually younger and less experienced. Proponents of this practice, however, claim that without the Cup "superstars" and the large amount of fan interest they attract, the series would cease to exist.