Split championships common for second tier

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The head table at Friday night's Busch Series Awards Banquet will be crowded.

Carl Edwards and his Roush Fenway Racing team will occupy half of it. Richard Childress and his race team will take the other half.

Edwards won the driver's title, but Childress won the car owner's championship. Childress used several drivers in his No. 29 Chevrolet and, as a group, they were the best team.

All will be honored near Walt Disney World as the sport also shares the spotlight with longtime series sponsor Anheuser-Busch. After supporting stock car racing for the past 26 years, Busch will be replaced next year by Nationwide Insurance.

Split championships are becoming common in NASCAR's second-tier division. The Busch Series had two championship teams in 2003, and NASCAR announced in November it likely won't award points to drivers from the Nextel Cup Series in the future.

Nextel Cup drivers won't stop racing -- and winning -- in the Nationwide Series, so it's going to increase the likelihood a winning car owner and driver will come from different teams.

Friday night's banquet will wrap up the racing year. Teams will get back to full speed shortly after New Year's Day with Nationwide, Craftsman Truck and Sprint Cup testing at Daytona International Speedway.

TRUCKS LOSE CRAFTSMAN: Craftsman will drop its sponsorship of NASCAR's truck series after the 2008 season.

Steve Phelps , NASCAR's marketing director, told the Kansas City Star his group will soon start looking for a replacement.

"What we want to try to do is identify companies that we believe would be a great fit for the series and a great fit for the fan base," he said. "So we'll get out there in 2008, the new year, and start discussions with new companies."

Craftsman is the only title sponsor the truck series has known since its inception 13 years ago.

Nextel's name change was prompted by Sprint's acquisition of the cell phone company. Busch left the sport for many of the same reasons Winston left five years ago -- NASCAR wanted to be able to market to a younger audience.

HEADED TO KANSAS: Kyle and Pattie Petty plan to open a second Victory Junction Gang Camp for critically ill children in Kansas.

With the success of their first camp near the Petty Enterprises race shops in Level Cross, N.C., the couple decided to continue to honor their son, Adam , by opening a second camp to benefit children in the Midwest. The Pettys will look for land near Kansas City to start their new camp.

Adam Petty was killed in 2000 while practicing in a Busch Series car at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.


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