KYLE BUSCH Concrete Kyle HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 23, 2009) -- One of Kyle Busch's NASCAR competitors, Carl Edwards, earned the nickname "Concrete Carl" a few years back for his penchant for winning on concrete racetracks in the NASCAR ...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 23, 2009) -- One of Kyle Busch's NASCAR competitors, Carl Edwards, earned the nickname "Concrete Carl" a few years back for his penchant for winning on concrete racetracks in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
But as Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to the 1-mile concrete oval that is Dover (Del.) International Speedway for Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the talented 24-year-old could easily be called "Concrete Kyle" for his own performances on concrete racetracks during the past two seasons.
After winning the Sprint Cup race at Dover in the spring of 2008, where he led 158 of 400 laps (39.5 percent) -- including the final 74 circuits -- Busch has notched a total of three Sprint Cup wins and one win apiece in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series on concrete surfaces.
He swept both Sprint Cup events at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2009 and added a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at the .533-mile concrete oval in August. He also scored a Nationwide Series win on the 1.33-mile Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway concrete oval in June.
Busch and the Interstate Batteries team are coming off back-to-back fifth-place finishes and couldn't be more excited about their second visit of the year to the Delmarva Peninsula. In June, Busch's potentially strong run was thwarted by an issue with the front splitter that forced him to pit under green-flag conditions for repairs, which put him a lap down and out of contention for the victory.
So as the Sprint Cup Series heads to "The Monster Mile" this weekend, the Las Vegas native hopes to give people a reason to start calling him "Concrete Kyle" by notching his fourth concrete win in eight such races the past two years.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You seem to have really taken to the concrete surfaces at Dover, Bristol and Nashville. Is there any particular reason for that?
"For whatever reason, those racetracks, like Dover and Bristol, I've always had good runs at with the Cup car. So we're looking forward to this weekend with Interstate Batteries along with us because of that. Concrete can be a little treacherous when there isn't a whole lot of rubber on the track, since it gets pretty slick. Once we get some rubber down on the track in practice, it gets a lot better."
How do you feel about the double-file restarts at Dover when you're up front? Would you choose the outside or inside lane for the restart?
"I'd probably choose the outside at Dover because you can get such a run around the top side of (turns) one and two that you can clear the guy down the back even if that guy got a good restart. Typically, you know whoever takes off first can almost beat the guy to the next corner, so whichever row the leader picks, you hope you're in that row because it seems to move along at least one car better than the opposite row. Double-file restarts -- they're a challenge. Once you get about five to eight laps into a run, then they start switching back off and it's really a challenge and a pain in the neck when you're the guy going backward because you know how hard those guys are going to be to pass when you go back by them. And so you've got to really have a car that handles well on the short run and the long run so you don't have to get mixed up in that mess."
You had a strong top-five run at New Hampshire to start the last 10 races of the season. What are your goals for the end of the year, even though you won't be able to race for the championship?
"We're just trying to steal points from these guys to help out the 11 (JGR teammate Denny Hamlin). Like I said, I'm going to try to help out my teammate as much as I can to win this championship. But, I also feel like we've got some good tracks coming up that we could do some damage at and finish off the year with some more wins, including this weekend for Interstate Batteries at Dover. We've also got Charlotte, California, Talladega, which have been good places for us in the past."
Where's your Monster trophy from your Dover win?
"Sitting in my trophy room. It's there with the rest of them. I've got all three trophies, one from each race. I won the Truck one before it became the Monster trophy. And I do have a small Monster and a big Monster. Whether you want to call it big brother, little brother or father and son, they're sitting next to each other. That trophy is a pretty cool trophy. It's really neat to win that thing. The hand can hold a real die-cast, and you know that's pretty cool. I got the die-cast with the car that I won there with in it."
In that June race at Dover, we saw that it was really difficult to pass with the current-generation car. Do you need to exercise a little more patience at Dover than you used to with the previous car?
"Dover is a challenging racetrack no matter what car you're driving. But we found out last year that once you get up into someone else's wake -- their buffer -- the car doesn't feel as secure. It doesn't feel as comfortable without having the air going over it, the little amount of air that does go over it. So it's kind of frustrating when you can't gain on somebody. You couldn't go to the top and try to pick up any time because it's just too long around up there and the cars are too tight. That's when my guys helped gain me the track position and, ultimately, won me the race."
You won the 2008 June race at Dover. Does that give you some added confidence going into this weekend, knowing it's a place where you've done well in the past?
"For sure. We probably didn't have the best racecar there last year. But we were really good there on long runs and had a big day from the guys on pit road. They really helped me with track position, since there were so many green-flag runs. They just kept us out front all day and that helped win it for us. I rode around the bottom most of the day and tried not to move around too much and it paid off."