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The trickle down effect from Kyle Busch Motorsports

by Dave Grayson
Monday, December 14, 2009

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Kyle Busch won a good number of truck races in 2009
It's been often said that for every action there is an opposite reaction. That piece of philosophy has become evident since last Friday's live television press conference when Kyle Busch Motorsports, KBM, announced their plans to become full time participants in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series beginning next February. The result is two, possibly three, Toyota truck teams with Kyle Busch doing double duty as both team owner and driver. The reaction appears to have landed on Billy Ballew Motorsports and Kevin Harvick Inc.

For the past two years KBM has been housed at the driver's home town of Las Vegas and was a late model and super late model stock car operation. In recent months Busch acquired the Toyota truck inventory formerly owned by Xpress Motorsports. KBM will operate out of the former Xpress race shops, in Mooresville-North Carolina, until the construction is completed on their new facility.

Kyle Busch will drive the #18 Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Toyota in NASCAR companion events meaning weekends when the trucks and the Sprint Cup Series are racing at the same facility. During non companion weekends Busch protégé Brian Ickler will drive the truck.

The second truck, the #56 Talking Rain Toyota, will be driven by 20 year old Tayler Malsam who last year was with Randy Moss Motorsports. There is also a very serious effort underway to secure sponsorship for a third Toyota to be driven by former series champion Johnny Benson.

The very impressive action by KBM has created the need for reaction. This is especially true of Billy Ballew Motorsports a veteran operation of several years in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. First there's the rather obvious: Ballew will no longer have Kyle Busch behind the wheel of his Toyota truck. In their five year relationship Busch won 18 series races including seven during the 2009 season. Those are really some remarkable numbers considering that Busch's commitments to Joe Gibbs Racing, in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, only allowed to race the truck on a part time basis. It's also well known that Busch did not take any salary for these truck races from Ballew in order to help the team owner out with his business expenses.

However, Ballew has lost considerably more than just a driver. His #51 Toyota was sponsored by Miccosukee who opted to leave to join Busch's new team. That's a huge loss that's going to be extremely difficult to replace. As far as replacing Busch goes there have been reports that state the team owner is seriously talking with series veteran driver Ted Musgrave. Those plans are reportedly ready to move forward if a sponsor can be found.

Also during last Friday's press conference Kyle Busch announced that he had retained the services of series veteran Rick Ren who was named as KBM's new Director of Competition. That announcement was a personnel blow to Kevin Harvick Inc, KHI, because it meant they were losing the services of Ren as the crew chief for their #33 Chevrolet driven by Ron Hornaday Jr. During his tenure as a truck series crew chief Ren has been responsible for 27 trips to victory lane as well as two series championships for KHI and Hornaday.

Unlike Ballew Motorsports, KHI owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick are in a much more favorable position to react to the impact from KBM's expansion into the truck series next year. Their two truck operation is well funded and well staffed. In recent days KHI announced that Doug Fuge will lead Ron Hornaday Jr's team next year. The sheer note of irony here is the fact that Fuge is a two time series championship owner from Xpress Motorsports who, again, recently sold their inventory to Kyle Busch.

KHI also announced that veteran driver and crew chief Doug George will take over the reins of their #2 truck which will be driven by a variety of Sprint Cup drivers including Harvick himself. There also a strong note of irony in this announcement as well. George left Billy Ballew Motorsports to accept the KHI position and used to be Kyle Busch's crew chief in the truck series.

Again, for every action there is an opposite reaction. Sadly, it now appears that Billy Ballew may be taking the hardest hit from Busch's announcement last Friday. It certainly wasn't Busch's intent to harm an old friend and former team owner. This is simply a case of taking care of business and what is often termed a racing deal.

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