KYLE BUSCH Hungry for a win at 16th and Georgetown HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 22, 2009) -- While most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors spent last weekend away from the racetrack, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe...
Hungry for a win at 16th and Georgetown
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 22, 2009) -- While most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors spent last weekend away from the racetrack, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), raced. And, as he's done a lot this year, not only did he race, he won.
With the Sprint Cup Series off last weekend, Busch spent Saturday night at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., and led 90 of 200 laps en route to victory in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
The victory was Busch's series-high sixth Nationwide win of 2009 and his 53rd career win among NASCAR's top-three divisions -- Sprint Cup (15), Nationwide (27) and Camping World Truck (11).
Victory at Gateway also took the Las Vegas native to another victory lane he had yet to visit -- and that is something that is becoming increasingly rare for the 24-year-old Busch.
Of the 30 tracks that will host NASCAR's top three divisions in 2009, Busch has competed at 28 of them at least once and, with his win at Gateway, he has now won at 22 of them.
The two tracks where he has not competed in the top-three series are Iowa Speedway in Newton and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal -- both of which he will race at within the next two months in Nationwide Series competition. The remaining six venues where Busch has raced but not scored a victory are Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., and Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park.
The Las Vegas native can narrow the latter list of tracks down to five at this weekend's 16th running of the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard Sprint Cup event at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Speedway is celebrating its 100th year of racing in 2009, and history has shown that only the elite drivers have found victory lane at the 2.5-mile oval located at the intersection of 16th and Georgetown on the city's west side.
While the goal for Busch and the No. 18 team will be to deliver a win to sponsor Snickers this weekend at Indianapolis, they'll also have a philanthropic motive. As part of its "Bar Hunger" campaign, Snickers will donate the equivalent of at least 3 million meals to Feeding America in 2009. Busch's No. 18 Toyota will sport a special "Bar Hunger" Snickers paint scheme at the Allstate 400 this weekend. Busch will also make a stop at Gleaner's Food Bank in Indianapolis to help raise awareness for Feeding America.
Feeding America to "Bar Hunger" is a campaign to help the one in eight Americans struggling with hunger. As the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charity, Feeding America feeds 25 million Americans at risk of hunger each year through a nationwide network of food banks and engages the country in the fight to end hunger.
So this weekend at Indianapolis, Busch would love nothing more than to carve his name into the history books and check another track off the list with a victory that would also satisfy his hunger for a Sprint Cup Series win, which has eluded him since he scored his third win of 2009 in May at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Do you remember when you first heard the words Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Brickyard 400?
"Probably the first time I knew of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or the Indy 500, was back in the '80s -- probably '89, maybe even 1990. Of course, the first time I knew of the Brickyard 400 was '94, being a big Jeff Gordon fan and following him growing up in Las Vegas. When he came into the sport a few years earlier and won the Coca-Cola 600, and then carried that into the Brickyard 400, and then won that race right off the bat, that was quite an accomplishment, for sure."
Is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a difficult track to master? Do you personally like driving there?
"It's a very difficult track to master. I'm not even sure that I've done it. Just racing the races that I've run there, I've finished well a couple of times. I think I've had a seventh and a 10th, and a fourth. To me, it has been one of those racetracks that is very unforgiving. It's narrow, tight, not a lot of passing goes on there. It's tough to get your car set up perfectly there, so you have to do what you can to make it the best you can. All four corners being so different, remembering exactly how to drive all four of them, and just trying to be able to be able to qualify up front and to race up front is so important there."
You are teammates with Joey Logano, a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. What advice will you give him to help him run well and succeed at the Brickyard?
"My advice to Joey (Logano), being a rookie going in there, is to go to Jimmie Johnson and come back with the information that he tells you (laughing). I've got some for him, just some tidbits that I've learned over the years, but guys who really have run well there -- Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards -- have run well there in the past. Go talk to the guys who have run well there and know that place really well. I've done decent, and I've finished well, but I don't foresee that I really know everything that I need to know about that track."
What is it about Indianapolis Motor Speedway that makes it unique compared to other tracks that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits?
"It's very tight down the straightaways. You roll through (turn) one and (turn) two, and there are people on the inside, there are people on the outside, there are people in the grass, just sitting along the back straightaway on the inside. You've got the golf course there, and fans sitting on the hills underneath the trees. You start back up into turn three, with the grandstands going around (turn) three and (turn) four, and then down the frontstretch and, again, there are two tunnels. There's a tunnel at the (turns) one and two side, and on the (turns) three and four side. There's a center road that runs all the way through, and then coming down the frontstretch again, looking on both sides of you, you've got the pit road, which is really narrow and really tight, and the grandstands on the inside and the outside, so you're going down a V of just people -- a sea of people. Coming to the Pagoda and the media center, the way it is, and of course the scoring pylon being as tall as it is, you come down there and, if you're leading the race, sometimes you can't see that high, so you're kind of wondering who is second and third, or who is behind you. It stinks when you're running in the back because you can see yourself right there."
Joe Gibbs Racing has won at The Brickyard three times -- twice with Tony Stewart, once with Bobby Labonte. What are your thoughts on Coach Gibbs' history at Indianapolis and what it would mean to add a Brickyard 400 trophy to your trophy case?
"Coach, being as successful as he has been there with Tony, and him being a big name from Indiana, wanting to win there, being a Hoosier himself, that's cool. I'm sure it was big for those guys. Bobby (Labonte) winning in the year that he won the championship for Joe Gibbs Racing at that racetrack was cool, with Jimmy Makar and all those guys. I'm just wishing one day I can put my name on that list by getting a win at that track and trying to run up front. You always want to win the big races. You want to win the Brickyard 400, the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, some of those big races, before your career is over."