Once standing tall among the elite, a power shift in the Busch household has put another Busch atop the standings during this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, has watched his younger brother Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota maintain a stranglehold of the top spot in the points standings during the 2008 season after once dominating the circuit.
Busch broke out in 2002, driving his No. 97 Ford to four victories, 12 top-five finishes and 20 top 10s in just his second full year of competition on NASACR's top circuit. He finished the year third in the points standings.
After finishing 11th in the points standings in 2003, Busch finished eight points ahead of Jimmie Johnson to capture the 2004 championship in the first season using the Chase for the Cup format. Busch dominated the season, posting three victories, including one in the Chase opener at Loudon, 12 top fives and 25 top 10s.
The 2004 season also saw the debut of Kyle Busch on the Cup circuit. He ran six races, but finished only two of them.
Even with his championship, Kurt Busch has become more known for being in the middle of feuds than for hoisting trophies.
His highly publicized conflicts include notable run-ins with drivers Jimmy Spencer, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. The incidents prompted GQ Magazine to list Busch as the third most hated athlete in their February 2006 issue behind Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens.
That same year, Busch left Roush Racing to replace Rusty Wallace in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing South. An incident with police before the race in Phoenix ended his Roush career early.
Now, it is Kurt Busch's turn to sit back and watch as his brother sits atop the points standings this year.
Since finishing second in the season-opening Daytona 500, Busch has failed to crack the top 10 and has wrecked in three races.
But even though he's mired in 21st place in the standings, Busch doesn't plan on changing his strategy.
"You still stick with the same game plan, which is to run consistently and to finish well, is the optimum goal," Busch said during testing at Pocono Raceway last week. "We've got to do that better now. It's time to where we have ourselves up against the wall and we've got to keep hammering away."
Pocono Raceway provides a track where Busch has raced well on in the past.
He has two career victories, seven top fives and seven top 10s throughout his career at the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
"(Pocono) is a fun, challenging track because all three corners are different," Busch said.
But even with the Car of Tomorrow making its first appearance at Pocono, the challenges of the track remain the same.
"The track is pretty tough because you don't have the transmission option anymore," Busch said. "The biggest challenge will be the right front camber and making sure we don't blow out right front tires."
Leveling the playing field is the CoT.
"This time around it's any man's game," Busch said. "It's a new car and new setups. There are some things that are the same (from the old car), but this car is radically different on the setup."
Busch remained optimistic during his team's test session after recording the fastest lap time and top speed during an afternoon session last Thursday.
"Everything is going good," Busch said while taking a break during the session. "There are only so many hours in the day, I wish we had another day." - poconorecord.com