Joe Gibbs Racing history with Interstate, part 17

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Joe Gibbs Racing press release

Busch Delivers Interstate Batteries Victory at Texas
Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Puts Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra in Victory Lane

Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane
Kyle Busch celebrates in Victory Lane

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Editor’s Note: In honor of Interstate Batteries’ and Joe Gibbs Racing’s 20th anniversary together in NASCAR, a series of press releases highlighting 20 big moments will be distributed throughout 2011. This is the 17th of the 20 releases.

It took 14 years and a bit of an odd circumstance, but on Nov. 5, 2010, Interstate Batteries finally went to victory lane in a NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth – located just down the road from Interstate’s headquarters in Dallas.

While Kyle Busch delivered the victory, it didn’t come in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry that Busch pilots for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Instead, it came in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries/IamSecond.com Toyota Tundra Busch drove for his own NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM).

Busch formed KBM in 2010 and, entering the Texas race, he had won six times in 13 starts while drivers Brian Ickler (seven races), Johnny Benson (one race) and Kasey Kahne (one race) had piloted the No. 18 Toyota Tundra in the other nine races. The success of the four drivers helped KBM enter the race first in the Truck Series owner standings with a 42-point lead over the No. 30 truck of Germain Racing.

As the Texas race approached, Busch needed a primary sponsor for the race and Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries, a big supporter of Busch and a person who never misses a great marketing opportunity, stepped up to support Busch’s No. 18 Toyota.

While Interstate Batteries has sponsored JGR’s No. 18 Sprint Cup Series car since the team first hit the track in 1992 and had also sponsored select Nationwide Series races for JGR in recent years, never before had the company logo adorned a Camping World Truck Series vehicle.

That changed when the KBM crew unloaded the No. 18 Interstate Batteries/IamSecond.com Toyota Tundra and it hit the track for the WinStar World Casino 350k. The truck featured split sponsorship between Interstate Batteries and “I am Second,” whose website, www.IamSecond.com, features video testimonials of hope, inspiration and transformation by individuals from all walks of life based on their personal faith journeys.

While the truck read “I am Second,” Busch was anything but that in the race as he led three times for a race-high 80 laps en route to victory at the 1.5-mile oval. But as dominating as Busch’s win was, he did have to overcome worn right-side tires that, with less than 70 laps remaining, sent a discomforting vibration through his No. 18 Toyota. Busch smartly backed off his lightning-quick pace and made sure to conserve his tires long enough to make it to his pit window. The strategy worked as Busch pitted on lap 94 for four new tires and fuel.

Once the rest of the field cycled through pit stops, Busch was third with 40 laps to go. He slowly whittled down the deficit between himself and the leaders but, despite moving up to second, he was still nearly three seconds behind first-place Bodine. A timely caution on lap 122 allowed Busch to close the gap and, even better, come to pit road for a chassis adjustment that improved the handling of his Toyota Tundra.

When the race restarted on lap 127, Busch stayed tight to the inside of Bodine. He passed Bodine for the lead off turn two and then set sail, picking up his 23rd career Truck Series win in just his 83rd start.

“That was just an awesome night,” said Busch, who would go on to win the 2010 Camping World Truck Series owner championship. “To give Interstate Batteries their first win at Texas was huge. Norm and everyone at Interstate have been such supporters of me and they’ve become great friends to Samantha (wife) and myself. I know how bad Norm and all the people at Interstate wanted a victory at Texas, and to be able to deliver it is a highlight of my career, for sure. I am Second is something that Norm started, and he had a lot of the I am Second people in victory lane, too. It was just an awesome night.”

The only person happier than Busch might have been Miller, who was joined in victory lane by Joe Gibbs, owner of JGR.

“It felt great,” Miller said. “To go there and sponsor just that one Truck race and get a shot at home and win, it was magnificent. And especially being teamed up with I am Second, which comes out of Dallas, and the board of directors were there that night – it was wonderful. It’s just one of those God things.”

With that Truck Series victory in-hand, Busch still has his sights set on getting Miller a victory in the Sprint Cup Series at Texas.

“Every spring at Texas, we have Interstate Batteries on our Camry, and we’re going to get Norm and everyone at Interstate a victory there at some point,” Busch said. “It’s a great company with great people and I can’t imagine what it would be like to get them a Sprint Cup Series win at Texas.

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Series HISTORY , NASCAR-CUP
Tags busch, gibbs, interstate, texas, toyota

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