KYLE BUSCH Momentum Heading Into (or near) Motown HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2009) -- Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), entered last week's Heluva Good! at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup...
Momentum Heading Into (or near) Motown
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2009) -- Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), entered last week's Heluva Good! at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International 101 points out of the 12-driver Chase for the Championship.
He exited Watkins Glen Monday afternoon with a fourth-place finish in the 90-lap event but, more importantly, cut the deficit to 12th-place Matt Kenseth to 58 points as the series rolls into Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, located about an hour west of Detroit, aka "Motown."
With four races remaining before the top-12 drivers are locked into the Chase, Busch knows that each week he must chip away at the gap between himself and 12th-place in order to give himself a chance to compete for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Michigan will be a good place to try and keep up his momentum from Watkins Glen, considering the good runs Busch has had at the 2-mile oval. In his last five Sprint Cup races at Michigan, Busch has not started worse than 11th or finished worse than 13th. In the August 2008 race, Busch started 11th and led 34 laps en route to a career-best second-place finish at Michigan.
Busch and his crew chief, Steve Addington, know that good finishes in the next four races are critical. They also know that the three tracks after Michigan -- Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway -- have been very good to Busch.
The Las Vegas native has two wins at Bristol (April 2007 and April 2009) and one win apiece at Atlanta (March 2008) and Richmond (May 2009).
It's crunch time for Busch, but like a trusted Interstate Battery, a little bit of heat won't hurt the performance one bit.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Your thoughts heading into the final four races before the Chase cutoff?
"We had a good run at The Glen and cut the margin almost in half, so that was a good start to getting ourselves back in. It all comes down to performance and how you finish on Sunday and the points you get. So when you look at who's in the Chase and who's going to fall out, man, it's hard too look at someone whose going to fall out. (Greg) Biffle and Kenseth -- I mean, (Matt) Kenseth has been in it every year, so you can't count on him even though he's fighting for a spot. You know Biffle, he runs strong in these next tracks that we go to. One of his best ones is Michigan and I think he runs well in Atlanta. But Bristol and Richmond, you know, those other two, those are our tracks. You know we run really well at those tracks. Bristol, you never know what can come out of that place, so it's a hard one, too."
What are your overall thoughts on heading to Michigan International Speedway?
"It's just a fun place to race. Its wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom. The biggest thing is just trying to get grip there. Some guys are able to get it, other guys can't. You can get it for maybe five laps, and then you're just out to lunch. The biggest thing is, just trying to make your car comfortable and make it last throughout a whole tire run and, of course, make it fast, too. And the wide racetrack is good. That's what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun. That's the biggest deal about it. For me, coming to Michigan, I tend to run well there, for whatever reason, and the biggest deal is trying to finish and finish up front."
What means more to you, winning races or solid points finishes?
"If you can trade a winning season for a championship season, anybody would always say you want a championship season. The thing for me would just to be a champion. If you can get a winless season and become a champion, then you've got it. Then, go win all the races you've lost. You've solidified yourself, you've made it in the sport, and you are a champion."
You are a big fan of the University of Michigan. How did you become a fan?
"My brother moved up to Michigan years ago to run in the (Camping World) Truck Series and he went to a Michigan game. He bought me a Michigan sweatshirt and sent it home for me. I never really paid attention to college football until then, but I became a Michigan fan. It's not too complicated of a story, but it's fun to be able to follow them when I have a Saturday afternoon off in the fall. I was lucky enough to be able to go to their practice before and get to know a few of the guys. I've met Coach Belein (University of Michigan men's basketball head coach) and his family a couple of times, and they're a lot of fun to talk to. You always respect people who are as competitive as you are, and they certainly have the same drive to win that I do."