At least two interesting things happened at the Daytona speedway this weekend.
One, when the rains came during the Daytona 500, Brad Keselowski told the pit reporter that “this rain shower here is gonna be real quick.” Five hours later, tarpon were flopping around on the backstretch.
Two, Las Vegan Kyle Busch won another truck series race.
(Actually, that Mountain Dew duck call commercial featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. was totally awesome. So make it three interesting things.)
That Kyle Busch won a truck series race was hardly unusual. It was his 36th victory in those pick-’em-up trucks. Busch the Younger also has thanked his sponsors 63 times after winning Nationwide series races.
He also has won 28 Cup series races. He and Busch the Elder — his brother Kurt — are two of the best racers on the NASCAR circuit, regardless of what those rednecks — er, passionate stock car racing fans — from Talladega say.
The truck series is to the Cup series what Double-A baseball is to the big leagues. The Nationwide series is like Triple-A. So when Busch wins a truck series race, or a Nationwide race, it’s sort of like when a major league pitcher with serious smoke is sent to Rancho Cucamonga on a rehab assignment.
Except pitchers on rehab assignments usually pitch only three or four innings, because they are on a pitch count.
A guy like Kyle Busch blows right past 100 pitches and 150 and 200, if that’s what it takes, because Kyle Busch doesn’t race in the truck series or the Nationwide series because he pulled a hammy. Kyle Busch races for only one reason: to win.
And when he wins against lesser competition, people in the stands complain. This is especially true at Talladega.
There was more grumbling when Kyle B. beat Timothy P. — Timothy Peters of Danville, Va. — to the stripe to win this weekend’s truck series race. So now NASCAR is thinking about putting a limit on the number of rehab assignments for Cup series guys.
And that is interesting.
This is what Steve O’Donnell, one of those NASCAR vice presidents, said: “We’re definitely aware of the fan messaging we get. There’s a balance, especially talking to the tracks, of having a Cup driver or two in the trucks or Nationwide. We have had discussions with the race teams about should Cup drivers get points, and we’ve looked at should they be limited in the number of races.
“It’s something we are really studying.”
This is what Kyle Busch said: “It’s me in the truck series. People don’t like it (especially people in Talladega). I’m stealing candy from a baby (although Timothy Peters is 33.). ’Til the rules are changed, or everybody else grows up and can beat me, then we’re racing.
“I have a truck team for a reason. If I didn’t drive in some races, it wouldn’t (exist). Sometimes people aren’t happy with the way life treats them. That’s their problem.”
You gotta love Busch the Younger. He always says what’s on his mind. No filters with Kyle B, except the one under his hood that says Fram or whatever.
But here’s the deal: If Clayton Kershaw does a rehab assignment at Rancho Cucamonga, a ton of people in the high desert are going to show up, and they’ll buy peanuts and Cracker Jack and nachos, and a few beers, and they’ll probably buy a raffle ticket for his Rancho Cucamonga jersey.
It’s the same with NASCAR. If the Cup guys don’t cherry pick the so-called developmental series races, then not as many people will go to them.
The track owners won’t like that. There are only so many ways you can promote utility infielders such as Timothy Peters and Jimmy Weller III and German Quiroga as stars of tomorrow.
NASCAR hasn’t tinkered with its rules in at least three weeks, so perhaps this compromise the NASCAR vice president spoke of may be coming sooner than later.
Until then, Kyle Busch is going to keep coming on the hard side, as he did Friday night, because Kyle Busch races to win. That’s something Timothy Peters and his pals will just have to learn to accept.
Unless, of course, it rains. Should that happen, don’t believe anything Brad Keselowski says.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.