Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Records Are Made To Be Broken
Anyone who has watched the racing career of Kyle Busch knows he’s found a knack for putting his name in the record books.
Over the course of his relatively short NASCAR career, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), who heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup Series race, seems to have taken full advantage of his opportunities to make history in each of NASCAR’s top three series.
It started when Busch was just 16 years old and became the youngest driver to start a Camping World Truck Series event when he took the green flag at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. The date was Aug. 3, 2001.
In 2005, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Busch was just 20 years and 125 days old when he became the youngest Sprint Cup winner ever – a record he held until June 2009 when his JGR teammate Joey Logano won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon at 19 years and 35 days old.
Logano might have broken Busch’s record for youngest Sprint Cup winner, but Busch still is the youngest driver to win a Sprint Cup pole – a feat he accomplished in February 2005, also at Fontana, in just his eighth career Sprint Cup start.
Fast-forward to two weekends ago at New Hampshire, where Busch won his 49th career Nationwide Series race, tying the venerable Mark Martin for the all-time series win record. In the process of tying that record, Busch also tallied his 100th win among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Sprint Cup (22), Nationwide (49) and Camping World Truck (29) with that Nationwide win at New Hampshire.
What might be the next major accomplishment on the talented 26-year-old’s list? Perhaps achieving the highly coveted personal milestone of scoring the victory this weekend at auto racing’s most historic venue for the very first time?
Busch would like nothing more than to add to his win list a race he and his fellow competitors consider part of the Sprint Cup’s “Big Three” – the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
Earning the right to kiss the Yard of Bricks come Sunday afternoon would shoot straight to the top of Busch’s growing list of accomplishments, for certain. And if records are made to be broken, it seems Busch was made to keep breaking records for years to come.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What does it take to be successful at Indianapolis?
“Indianapolis is probably one of the trickiest places we go to on the schedule – Pocono being one, Darlington being one, Indy being another. It’s so hard to find a particular line that really, really works for you or really works for your car because the groove is so narrow. It’s plenty wide for one or one-and-a-half cars, but the line that you run around there, you vary six inches and it feels so different. You really have to be particular in hitting your marks and getting your car set up. The way that it changes throughout the weekend, going from practice, when there’s not much rubber on the racetrack, and then to the race, with a lot of rubber on the racetrack – the trajectory of the corners changes. How wide do you enter the corner? How long do you stay out? How sharp do you turn down? Indy’s definitely a particular racetrack and it’s exciting for us all to go there, especially with the history there and the prestige of winning that event. I’d love nothing more than to win there on Sunday with my M&M’s Camry. It would be something cool. Been close a couple times, but I’d like to get a little closer.”
Where does Indy rank on the list of prestigious wins in this series?
“It’s number two. It’s right there. Daytona is one, Indy is two. They’re both pretty close. Daytona probably pays a little bit more because NASCAR has to do that. Indy is an important racetrack for a lot of people. The history of that place, it’s all been Indy cars. But it’s still one of the first big superspeedways in America dating back to the early 1900s. There’s a lot there that everyone always wants to win.”
Did you watch the Indy 500 growing up?
“I never really paid much attention to Indy car stuff growing up. I always kind of watched it to see the cars go around there. And I’d always watch a little bit during the month of May to see what kind of speeds they were turning, and what the new rules were when they came out with new rules to slow the cars down, and to see the guys get them going faster again. It was always fun to watch that. Then you get to the race and it wasn’t a whole lot for me to watch or learn.”
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.”
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 (turns) one and 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 (turns) three and 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 the year 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.”
By: joe gibbs racing