KYLE BUSCH Circling the Calendar HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2010) - The moment it became apparent that Kyle Busch and the entire Interstate Batteries team were destined to compete in the 2010 edition of the Chase for the Sprint ...
Circling the Calendar
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 22, 2010) - The moment it became apparent that Kyle Busch and the entire Interstate Batteries team were destined to compete in the 2010 edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, they circled several races on the calendar they knew they would have a shot to bring home a victory during NASCAR's 10-race playoff.
One of those tracks happens to be Dover (Del.) International Speedway, site of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 and race number two in this year's Chase.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), got off to a decent start in the opening Chase race last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Despite an ill-handling racecar and a spin with less than 100 laps to go, Busch and the No. 18 team rallied for a solid ninth-place finish.
Thanks to the impressive rally in Loudon, the talented 25-year-old remains fourth in the Sprint Cup standings, just 62 points behind leader and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin.
The Las Vegas native will not only try to keep the momentum going by scoring his fourth consecutive top-10 finish, he'll also try to bring back the magic of his May race at Dover that saw Busch lead 131 laps en route to his second career Sprint Cup victory at the concrete mile oval known as the "Monster Mile."
Just like Interstate's slogan, Busch and Company look to keep their "Outrageously Dependable" top-10 streak going during the second Chase race at a scary-sounding place on the Delmarva Peninsula this weekend, and they hope this Dover race circled on the calendar weeks ago will help catapult the Interstate Batteries team into a rock-solid position as frontrunner for the Sprint Cup championship.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry at Dover International Speedway:
You have two Sprint Cup wins and a competitive history at Dover. What is your game plan this weekend?
"Our game plan is to try to repeat what we did in the spring. Obviously, we had a good race going. We qualified well. We raced well all through the event. Toward the end of the race, it came down to the final pit stop between Jimmie (Johnson) and myself and we were able to get out of there smoothly and cleanly. Jimmie didn't. He got caught speeding on pit road. We'll just go back there with our Interstate Batteries Camry and try to make the most of the event and the weekend and get a good, strong finish and keep our momentum rolling here and try to get through the final 10 races strong in order to get a shot at the championship come Homestead."
How important is the race at Dover?
"It's a place where I really like to go. I run well there in the Trucks, the Nationwide cars and the Cup cars. I like going there. It's a hard place to get around. It's a little bit treacherous and kind of tricky, sometimes, especially the way the rubber is there and the way Goodyear brings tires in. I like going to Dover. We won there in the spring. I feel like we can go back there and kind of repeat that performance. We ran top-five most of the day and then made some really good changes toward the end of the race and got there to try to compete for the win and we beat Jimmie (Johnson) on pit road. There again, you can't have a mistake on pit road, on the last pit stop during a green flag stop or something. There are so many different ways to lose these races that you have to keep your head on."
It's early in the chase, but do you have the confidence you won't have the issues that you've had in the past to start the Chase?
"Anything can happen in the sport. That's why it's called racing. I feel pretty good about where we are. We've run well - running well at Michigan, didn't finish where we wanted to. We went to Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond, all finishes in the top-five. This past weekend, we snuck out with a ninth-place finish, got a good solid top-10. It wasn't the effort of a top-10, but it was a top-10 finish. I'm pleased with where we are. We feel we can always be better. For how the circumstances played out Sunday, it was all right. Knowing we're going to a couple racetracks here that we run well at - Dover being one of them, Kansas may be hit or miss, but California is a good one, Charlotte is later on, Phoenix is later on - those tracks we tend to run well. Being optimistic, I'm looking forward to this weekend and hoping that the mechanical gremlins stay away. You never know what can happen."
How have you matured as a driver since the 2008 Chase?
"It's a lot easier to go through and run consistently. Unfortunately, it was the first three races in 2008 that were mechanical failures. It wasn't driver error. I wasn't driving into wrecks or making mistakes or something like that. We had the sway bar fall off (at New Hampshire) and then we went to Dover, we blew up, and then Kansas, we had a fuel pickup issue the whole race. Those were the problems in the first three races and we were 12th in points, 380 points behind or something like that. The Chase is over. What do you want me to say? We're not gonna win the deal. So, we were just struggling to get a top-10 finish out of it. Luckily, I finished 10th and was able to go to New York for the banquet. I learned a lot last year through the Nationwide Series and running for the championship there. We were pretty consistent. We ran third, we ran fifth, we ran seventh, we won. We ran pretty consistently. In order to win a championship, you have to run consistently. You have to be able to be there every single week fighting for that top-five, fighting for that top-10. In those weeks when you're running fourth and you're trying to pass for third - like (at Richmond two weekends ago) when I was running second trying to pass for the win - I wasn't going to do anything stupid. You take that finish and go onto the next week and maybe karma will reward you back a little bit and give you a better finish a couple weeks down the road."
This year, you came into the Chase a bit under the radar compared to 2008 when you were the top contender with all eyes on you. Does that make a difference? Does it help the team to fly under the radar as opposed to being in the limelight?
"I don't think it really matters. Teams do what they've got to do to try to run well and win races. Obviously, with all the attention being drawn to Denny's (Hamlin) team or Jimmie's (Johnson) team, obviously they're the guys who have gotten it the past two years. If you're referring to Clint Bowyer being one of the dark horses, winning his first race out, I don't think it's coincidence. I just think it happened that way. It's the way the racing gods like to play games on us all."
Where are your Monster trophies from your wins at Dover?
"Sitting in my trophy room, there with the rest of them. I've got all three trophies, one from each race. I won the Truck race before it became the Monster trophy. With winning two back in May there, I have a couple of small Monsters 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 and hoping to add more family members every time I go there. 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 I won with there in it."