KYLE BUSCH No Points, No Problem HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 18, 2010) - Through the first 12 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kyle Busch has worked hard at taking a bit of a different approach when it comes to chasing the Sprint ...
No Points, No Problem
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 18, 2010) - Through the first 12 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kyle Busch has worked hard at taking a bit of a different approach when it comes to chasing the Sprint Cup Championship.
Don't misunderstand Busch, the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Pretzel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). He is still just as set on winning races as he's ever been. But while he has come home victorious in two of the last three Sprint Cup races, including Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, it's several other races this season in which Busch has shown impressive patience that have raised eyebrows in the NASCAR garage.
When he has a winning car, the talented 25-year-old has driven hard for the win. But when the car isn't exactly to his liking, he's been able to bring home what the car can give him instead of making a mistake that costs him precious spots in the points. In other words, Busch and the M&M's team haven't been beating themselves.
As the series head into the second non-points event of the season - Saturday Night's $1 million-to-win Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway - Busch can now throw all of that out the window, but only for one night.
He earned his spot in this year's All-Star Race - comprised primarily of 2009 and 2010 Sprint Cup race winners, plus past All-Star Race winners and past series champions - via his four series wins in 2009 and his two wins in NASCAR's top series thus far in 2010.
The Las Vegas native not only has earned the title of All-Star, but he's quickly become one of the dominant forces in the elite Sprint Cup Series. With his 18th career Sprint Cup win at Dover this past weekend, Busch now has 69 career wins in NASCAR's top three divisions - Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck. That mark has him sitting ninth on the all-time NASCAR win list, and his 18 Sprint Cup wins have him tied for 37th on the Sprint Cup win list with Geoffrey Bodine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Busch was widely regarded as a potential star when he entered the Sprint Cup ranks full-time in 2005 as a raw 18-year-old, but he's quickly transformed that star potential into bonafide All-Star status since joining JGR at the beginning of 2008.
A competitor who has tried to focus on racing smart during points-paying events week in and week out, Busch views Saturday's non-points-paying All-Star Race as his annual, one-time opportunity to throw patience out the window at his own discretion.
That's reason enough for fans to keep an eye out for the new blue M&M's Pretzel scheme come Saturday night. The salty and sweet Pretzel M&M's Chocolate Candies® colors will adorn Busch's No. 18 Toyota for the next four events, which also include the Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, the June 6 Gillette ProGlide 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and the June 13 Heluva Good! Sour Cream and Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
So, on Saturday night, it's no points, no problem. And you can all but guarantee the Las Vegas native and his colorful racecar will be right in the middle of all the action.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Pretzel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Last year's All-Star race was pretty wild, and it was no surprise that you were right in the middle of it. Do you just do what you can in the early going, and then just go for it in the last segment, like last year?
"Last year's All-Star Race was really quiet for the majority, and then the last 10 laps, if I would have had a car that was capable of running up front and leading the laps, I would've gotten to the front and been gone. Unfortunately for us, our car was way too tight in the last segment. We pumped up the air pressures and didn't put all the fuel in the car trying to keep some nose weight in it to keep it a little bit tight. That's what actually made a race out of it, was me having a tight race car. Yeah, the restarts were good. I could jump to the front and get out there, but I couldn't hold those guys off. It was pretty wild with the three-wide in the middle there, at one point. To me, it really seemed like it was pretty exciting the last 10 laps, and I hope we can do the same this weekend with our M&M's Pretzel Toyota."
What's the difference between how you race in a points-paying race versus a non-points event like the All-Star Race?
"The All-Star Race is a different atmosphere for me, since it's a different way of racing for everybody. It's just that it's a non-points race, and the pure fact you're going after a race just for bragging rights and a million bucks. That's what it's all about. Our pit crew is really solid, so I hope we can earn the pole again like we did last year with the combination of speed and what those guys do on pit road."
How would you describe your driving style? Does your style fit well with the All-Star Race?
"It's hard to describe a driving style. A lot of guys would say they're patiently aggressive. That's the best way to look at it. I guess that's the way I thought I was a few years ago, even though there wasn't a lot of patience involved. Now, there's lot more involved and I've gotten smarter. There were plenty of times that I could have made moves this year at certain points of the race and I decided to back off and wait a lap and let it happen on its own. So, it's been a lot better and I've thought about things a lot more. It seems to me that success is becoming a little easier when you are patient when you need to be, but also aggressive when you need to be. In a non-points race, you just take a different attitude than you would in a points race and it makes it exciting for the fans."
Do you have a favorite memory of watching the All-Star Race as a fan?
"I think my favorite memory of watching as a fan growing up was the T-Rex car with Jeff (Gordon) and being a Jeff Gordon fan and watching him dominate that night and pretty much taking everybody to school. I guess that car probably took everybody to school more than he did. It was fun to be a Gordon fan that day."
Do you know the format changes and do you like them?
"It changes every year. You try not to pay attention to it until you get there for the weekend, and then you get a refresher course on what's going to happen in the driver's meeting because they might change it between now and when it comes up."