Charlotte: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH Building a Resume HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 20, 2009) -- If you ask most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars what they consider the most prestigious events they could add to their resume of wins, they'll likely list the same four ...

KYLE BUSCH
Building a Resume

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 20, 2009) -- If you ask most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars what they consider the most prestigious events they could add to their resume of wins, they'll likely list the same four races.

Those would be the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte.

If you ask Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), he'd probably rattle off a list fairly similar to the above events. But, most any week on the circuit, the most important win for the talented 24-year-old would be "the next one," no matter the venue.

One of NASCAR's crown jewels -- Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 -- happens to be "the next one" on the schedule and also takes place at a track where a Sprint Cup win has still eluded Busch thus far in his short but successful career.

Busch already has brought home two meaningful Sprint Cup wins in 2009, winning at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, and a win on his 24th birthday three weeks ago at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He'd most certainly like to add the 1.5-mile oval near his current residence to his resume of wins.

If the Las Vegas native's last three Sprint Cup finishes at Lowe's Motor Speedway are any indication, chances are the bright-colored M&M's Toyota will be somewhere near the front of the pack on Sunday. Busch's career best at Charlotte was third place in October 2007, which he followed up by matching that same result in the Coca-Cola 600 a year ago this weekend.

Although Busch has tasted success at Charlotte with four NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins, he also has had six Sprint Cup finishes of 25th or worse at his favorite track. In addition to the back-to-back third-place finishes in Sprint Cup, Busch scored a fourth-place finish last October and had a shot to win before a pit road speeding penalty took him out of contention.

Most recently, Busch led 33 laps while also making several breathtaking moves in an attempt to win the non point-paying Sprint All-Star Race last Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway. While he eventually faded to seventh-place after contact with Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman, both Busch and crew chief Steve Addington garnered plenty of knowledge that they can apply to Sunday's point-paying Coca-Cola 600.

Now that he has three top-five finishes and a pole to his credit at Charlotte over the last two seasons, Busch has one more goal to fulfill at the track that sits in the center of the NASCAR universe -- a Sprint Cup victory.

After all, it would look pretty good on the resume.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

You've said in the past that Charlotte is your favorite track. Is there any particular reason why?

"Charlotte is my favorite racetrack for a lot of reasons. Just growing up watching races on TV, I loved watching the All-Star race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Nationwide Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. But a Cup Series win has eluded me there. I finished third in the 500 (fall Charlotte race) in 2007 but, besides that, I don't think I've finished in the top-20 several times. It's been kind of a struggle there for me. I think I've only finished three races there without having problems or without wrecking or having something happen. In that race, I was two or three laps down, in 32nd, or something like that. We fought back and finished in the top-five in both races there last year, so I hope my luck is turning around a bit."

How would you assess your year thus far, now that we are headed to Memorial Day weekend?

"We've been good, but we just haven't shown it and we haven't finished where we need to. The past five out of six races, I think we've had 17th or worse. It's been frustrating because we haven't been able to finish where we'd like to, so that's why we're so far down in the points. We're still within the top-12 solidly, I think. I don't know what the points curve is there, but we've got a way to go before we jump up. I think there's a big 100-point gap between myself and fourth. We've got some work to do to try to get ourselves a little further up. Hopefully, we can try to do that during the summer months here. We're getting to some of my favorite race tracks, except for Pocono."

You were able to win at your hometown track in Las Vegas, and even on your birthday this year at Richmond. What race would you like to win next?

"All of them. Next week is where you want to win next. You forget about what happened last week and focus on what's ahead. We missed out on the (Sprint) All-Star race last weekend, but we certainly went for it. Winning at Lowe's Motor Speedway, since it is my favorite track, would be really special since I've been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. We had good cars there in both races last year. At the fall Charlotte race, we were in a position to win and I messed up, speeding on pit road, and we ended up fourth. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just doesn't like me too much, but I'm hoping we can change that. There are plenty of other tracks that we need to win at, too."

How much do your inconsistent finishes this season bother you?

"They bother me a lot because it's not how we do things and it's not how we're supposed to run. I'm hoping this bad luck, or whatever it is that we're going through, that we're getting it all out of the way now instead of when it comes down to the 'Chase,' when we need all the good luck we can get. The other thing is that, when you look at Jimmie Johnson, too, he's been struggling at times early this season. It's not necessarily because they haven't been running well, but not finishing well, same as us. He can run strong, but he just doesn't have the finish that he needs. I don't know, maybe we're right in parallel with him, so I feel like we're okay. I'm sure they'll be there, really good, throughout the final 10 races, and I want us to be, as well."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Ryan Newman , Kyle Busch