Kyle Busch: Filling out the Charlotte resume

Kyle Busch would like to highlight his resume with his first Charlotte Sprint Cup win during Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at his favorite racetrack.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – With 12 combined wins between the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch has spent plenty of time in victory lane at the 1.5-mile oval in the heart of NASCAR country.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

But the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) would like nothing more than to highlight his resume with his first Charlotte Sprint Cup win during Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at the racetrack Busch calls his favorite on the circuit.

Despite falling just short of earning his first Charlotte Sprint Cup victory twice in the last three seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the 1.5-mile oval known as the “Beast of the Southeast” during his 19 previous Sprint Cup starts there.

He’s riding a streak of 11 top-10 finishes in the last 13 points-paying races there dating back to October 2006. In addition to solid Sprint Cup finishes, Busch has captured seven NASCAR Nationwide Series wins (May 2004, 2005 and 2008, October 2008 and 2009, May 2010, and May 2013) and five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins (2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, and 2013).

Coming off a tough outing Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – statistically one of his worse racetracks – the Las Vegas native heads to one of his strongest tracks in hopes of regaining some ground in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship battle, where he sits fifth in the standings, 35 points behind points-leader and JGR teammate Matt Kenseth.

Busch finally appeared headed for his breakthrough Sprint Cup win at Charlotte in the October 2010 and 2011 races there. In 2010, he led a race-high 217 laps but had to settle for a second-place finish behind Jamie McMurray. Then, the following year, he looked to be the class of the field once more but, after leading a race-high 111 laps, Busch was forced to settle for another second-place finish, this time behind Kenseth. He followed that up with a solid fifth-place finish in this race one year ago.

So, with a strong record at Charlotte over his nine plus seasons on the Sprint Cup circuit, Busch and his M&M’s team are looking to add a long-awaited win in the NASCAR mecca of Charlotte to his growing resume and are determined to keep fighting in a 2013 championship battle that still has a long way to go.

Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

What are the challenges of racing at Charlotte?“I think the biggest challenge about Charlotte is how much the track changes from practice. You practice all during the day and then you go into night racing. You’ve got to know what kind of adjustments to make to your car and how well you can race at night. Typically, you go back to your night notes. For us, we’ve run well there in the past and like going there. It’s a fun place to race and adds to the excitement of spending some time at home.”

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. We’re definitely getting closer than I was back when I first started racing at Charlotte. I think I have something like 10 top-10 finishes in my last 12 races going into this weekend, so I hope my luck is turning around a bit and I can finally get that Sprint Cup win there with our M&M’s Camry. We’ve been very close there plenty of times over the last several years.”

You’ve won at 17 different racetracks but you badly want to win at Charlotte, someday. Would you consider winning the October race at Charlotte to also be a feather in your cap? “Winning at Charlotte 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. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series races there in the spring, so I’m hoping we can change that this weekend and get a fall Sprint Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt it would be big.”

After a tough weekend in Kansas, how do you approach the final six races of the season? “We’ll just have to work hard. We just have to keep doing what we’ve done to get us to this point all year long and that’s been consistency. And every other track except Kansas seems to be able to bode well for us, so we’ll see what happens and, if it doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen. This team isn’t going to give up, by any means. We’ll try to work hard and see what falls our way and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But there’s still a lot of racing to be done with our M&M’s Camry.”

Do you enjoy the night race at Charlotte? “Charlotte is always fun because it’s cool for us. It’s my favorite track, but it’s cool for a lot of teams because it’s kind of – quote-unquote – close to home. I like going there. It makes things interesting with the night race. Practicing during the day and racing at night and the cooler temperatures and everything. You’ve got to put your best foot forward and work as hard as you can.”

What’s the biggest difference from the spring race to the fall race at Charlotte? “It’s a little bit warmer in the spring and summer months – in May versus where we are now in October. It’s still one of those neat facilities we get to go to two or three times in the year, if you count the All-Star race. I like going there. It’s close to home for everybody, so it’s not too far out of bed.”

Joe Gibbs Racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Preview
Tags bush, charlotte, nascar-cup, toyota