Bristol: Kyle Busch preview

You Mean We Can't Win Them All? HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 18, 2009) -- There are several reasons why Kyle Busch often runs up front no matter what type of race car he straps himself into. Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for...

You Mean We Can't Win Them All?

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 18, 2009) -- There are several reasons why Kyle Busch often runs up front no matter what type of race car he straps himself into.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is often touted as one of the most talented drivers currently competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

That talent, coupled with great equipment from JGR and the ability to drive his car deeper than others may dare, are a few more reasons why the talented 23-year-old has found success as he competes in his fifth full season in NASCAR's top series.

A testament to Busch's diverse talents is that all 13 of his Sprint Cup wins thus far have come at different racetracks, a trend he would like nothing more than to break out of at Sunday's Food City 500 Sprint Cup race at the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway oval, where he won for the first time in March 2007.

Fueling Busch's ability to win on many different types of tracks is one intangible asset that is often overlooked but just might be the ultimate key to his success -- his desire to win.

Growing up in Las Vegas as a part of a racing family, Busch showed up to each and every race to win. Anything less than that was a disappointment. And his will to win was evident from the start. Since entering the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2005 at the tender young age of 18, Busch has won 22 races in NASCAR's top three series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck.

While those stats are certainly nothing to sneeze at, his move to JGR in 2008 helped the rapidly maturing driver find more success. In fact, over the course of 36 Sprint Cup weekends last season, Busch won at least once in NASCAR's top three series in 17 of those weekends.

Busch started 2009 right where he left off a season ago, winning his Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, winning the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in week two, and following it up with his Sprint Cup victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the very next weekend. With those wins, Busch became the first driver in NASCAR history to win in all three NASCAR divisions in the first three weeks of the season. Even more impressive is the fact that Busch extended the streak to four weekends in a row at Atlanta Motor Speedway with his amazing, late-race come-from-behind victory in the Camping World Truck Series race.

But perhaps lost in the excitement of another hot start in 2009 for Busch are Sprint Cup finishes of third at Fontana and first at Las Vegas (where he started the race from the rear of the field after an engine change). In those events, the No. 18 team didn't have the dominant racecar, but Busch and crew chief Steve Addington kept working on the handling all race long. In both cases, the talented 23-year-old cautiously worked his way through the field and didn't drive his car beyond its capabilities.

While the start of this season has continued to prove Busch is capable of winning on a consistent basis, it's also shown that he is starting to learn patience, which could prove to be bad news for his Sprint Cup counterparts. While winning will always be important, races such as Fontana and Las Vegas are the ones that will prove he and his team are worthy contenders to knock off NASCAR's three-time-defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team.

So while Busch has certainly proven he has the desire to win at NASCAR's top level, he's beginning to show the patience it takes to be a serious contender for the Sprint Cup championship.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

How tough is it to keep things in perspective since it's not realistic to win each and every week?

"Losing isn't a lot of fun, but you've got to deal with it better. You've got to learn that every day isn't your day, but you can make the most of losing, sometimes, and try to turn it around and win the next week. It's kind of a double-edged sword because you want to win badly, but it's just trying to take those days where you have a third-place racecar and bring it home in third place."

What have you learned over the past year that you hope will help in your drive toward your first Sprint Cup Championship?

"I think to probably take the bad days a little easier. But I hate bad days. I'm still not going to take them as easy as I should. It's unfortunate we weren't able to capitalize on our great season in the Chase (in 2008), and run in the Chase the way we wanted to. But I feel like we've been able to not let the bad days haunt us and maybe also turn some days that should be bad into something better than we should have had. We didn't let Daytona haunt us. We went to California, ran a smart race and finished third. We went to Las Vegas and didn't have the best car, but we ran a smart race and ended up winning. We weren't the best car at either place, but we were the best car in Daytona, and I felt like we missed out there. You're never owed one in this sport. You've always got to take what you can get. Unfortunately, some days are bad days and you just put it behind you and look forward to the next week."

How important is winning a Sprint Cup championship to you?

"Anything you every work toward is for a championship, so it doesn't matter how many race wins you have at the end of your career. Everybody always looks at the championships that you have been able to accumulate. If you haven't accumulated those, then they look at race wins. You want to be a champion, and for me, a champion in NASCAR's top series -- the Sprint Cup Series -- is ultimately what we look for every weekend. The championship is pretty much what you think more of than, necessarily, race wins. In the beginning of the year, everybody is out for race wins in order to get those 10 bonus points for the start of the Chase. Once you get down to qualifying for the Chase, then it's about the championship, and once you get down to the end of the year, it's about the championship."

What about Bristol are you looking forward to?

"I'm looking forward to a great race. We had great racecars both times we were there last year. The first time, we had the steering box fail on us and spun us out while leading. And then, the second time around, we had a great car there and we got knocked out of the way by (Carl) Edwards. I feel like Bristol is a good track for us. Along with Lowe's Motor Speedway, it's always been one of my favorite racetracks we go to."

How has your driving style at Bristol Motor Speedway had to evolve with the racetrack?

"Your driving style has had to change at Bristol a lot. Bristol used to be a track where you could charge the corners a little bit and get it right in and down to the bottom of the track. You kind of would go through the middle of the corner and then slingshot out on the exits, and now it's just so smooth that you're easy in, you're kind of easy through the center, and easy off. The track is a little slower than I think it was because they reduced some banking in order to put sort of the progressive banking into it to make the outside groove better for the fans. The fans don't like it because we don't bump each other out of the way as much and spin each other out, anymore, to try to make a pass. We're actually able to race side-by-side and not hit each other. To me, Bristol is a fun track, now. I think it's better than what it was. Both ways are pretty cool. If somebody was to build another one, then build it the way it was or build it the way it is because it would still be a good race. Bristol has come a long way and I'm looking forward to it this week. We led a lot of laps there last fall, so I think we could have a good shot at running well again."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing