HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 15, 2011) – Kyle Busch will conclude the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with Sunday’s Ford 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Recent history says there could be a lot riding on the outcome of Sunday’s 400-mile race for Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), considering that a win at Homestead has already been parlayed into a bona fide Sprint Cup championship run the following season.
Two years ago this weekend, Busch’s JGR teammate Denny Hamlin finished off 2009 with a win at Homestead and rode that momentum all the way to the 2010 championship finale, where he arrived in first place in the standings. While Hamlin ended up falling just short in his championship bid, the momentum from his winning finish to the 2009 season certainly can be credited with jump starting his championship run in 2010.
A year ago this weekend, Carl Edwards secured a win in the 2010 season finale at Homestead to go with his victory at Phoenix International Raceway the week prior. Once again, the winning finish to the season gave Edwards the momentum for a solid 2011 campaign. He currently sits atop the driver standings, three points ahead of second-place Tony Stewart as they battle Sunday afternoon for the Sprint Cup Championship trophy at Homestead.
Busch, meanwhile, looks to improve by leaps and bounds over his career-best Homestead finish of eighth in 2009. The finish was his only top-10 at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval, bettering by far his other five finishes of 41st, 28th, 20th, 19th, and 32nd.
So, before the curtain falls on the 2011 Sprint Cup season at Homestead-Miami Speedway shortly after dark on Sunday, there is certainly a lot at stake not only for championship contenders Edwards and Stewart, but even for Busch, the talented 26-year-old from Las Vegas. He, just like Hamlin and now Edwards, will reach for a Homestead win in order to find something to build upon for next season.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are your expectations for this weekend’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway?
“That track hasn’t been great to me. I’ve run well there in the Truck Series. I won the Nationwide race there the last two years. Homestead is a fun racetrack. It’s real challenging because of the way the race changes from the beginning to the end, and the way things change from the beginning to the end of your runs. You run the bottom, then you go to the top. You’re always moving around. You’re always thinking. It’s a cool racetrack. The sun is going to play havoc on our eyes getting down into turn one during the race.”
Homestead has not been a great track for you, statistically, with your best finish being eighth in 2009. Is Homestead a place you might be starting to figure out in the Sprint Cup car?
“We ran a lot better there in 2009 than where we finished and we were running top-10 last year before we got wrecked, so, the last couple of years we’ve been much better than the results have shown. In 2009, Denny (Hamlin) and I battled on that last restart and I just couldn’t quite stay ahead of him. Track position is big there and, once he got out in clear air, he was gone. I was trying hard to get back ahead of him and ended up scraping the fence. I’ve never run that well there, before, but Dave (Rogers, crew chief) really gave me the best car I’ve ever had there the last couple of years. I’m hoping we can have another strong car and finish off the season strong and it can give us some momentum for the offseason and for next year.”
You have your fewest Sprint Cup starts at Homestead. How do you expect to do this weekend?
“It seems in a lot of ways like I’ve never been able to finish a race at Homestead. I always seem to run into bad luck there, and 2009 was my best finish and we were alright there the year before but ran out of gas and still finished 19th. We were like 20th the year before that. But, there have been several tracks that I’ve not run well at before this year and ended up winning the race, like we did at Atlanta, or running well in the road-course races. The more starts I can get there, I think the results will turn around, eventually.”