Kyle Busch looks to maintain consistency at Michigan

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Joe Gibbs Racing press release

KYLE BUSCH
‘Outrageously Dependable’ As Chase Looms Near

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

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 17, 2011) – Kyle Busch hasn’t always been the driver people associated with the word consistency. But now, just four races before the 10-race, 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship is set to begin, nobody has been more outrageously dependable when it comes to consistent finishes than the talented 26-year-old.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has already posted 10 finishes of third or better and, after two top-three finishes in-a-row, he has vaulted to the series points lead as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the second of two stops at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

The Las Vegas native has been a fixture at the front of the field this season, having led a series-high 1,136 laps, which is more than double that of his brother Kurt, who has led the second-most laps with 548. But, even more impressive for Busch is the fact he has amassed a very consistent 12 top-five and 14-top-10 finishes to go with his three wins earned over the course of the first 22 races this season.

With those solid numbers, Busch appears to be ensured a spot in the Chase, which will get underway just four races from now. While he has the aforementioned three wins, he’ll be looking to add more in an effort to add to the 30 bonus points he already has accumulated before NASCAR’s version of the playoffs begin. Just like Interstate Batteries’ slogan, Busch and Company are hoping to be “Outrageously Dependable” over the next four races in order to not only earn, but maximize their position in the Chase and the chance to go after the season-ending championship.

While Busch has struggled at the 2-mile oval at Michigan at times during his Sprint Cup career, he and the Interstate Batteries team looked solid during their first visit in June, leading 59 laps and bringing home a third-place finish. So, as Busch heads back to the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend, he and his teammates look to add another consistent finish by building upon June’s strong run and take aim for Busch’s first Sprint Cup victory at the legendary racetrack.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

How do you assess your team at this point as we get closer to the Chase, perhaps in light of your winning eight races in 2008?

“Certainly, 2008 was a special year and it was the first year that we’d gone to this new car full-time. People didn’t know these cars completely and I feel like there was a lot more driver involved then, when we didn’t know so much about these cars. Now that we know so much, we’ve come such a long way that certainly a lot more car is involved. I feel like we’re a lot better than we’ve ever been. Dave Rogers (crew chief) and Chris Gayle (team engineer) and Ron Denton (team engineer) and all of the guys on my team have done a tremendous job at being able to put together great cars on and off the racetrack. From back at the shop to the guys who work on it and to the guys who do everything at the racetrack, we feel really good about what we’ve got going on. We feel like we’ve been better prepared this year and certainly we don’t have the tally of eight wins, but we’re a lot more consistent, I feel like. From pit stop to pit stop, we’re a lot more consistent. From race to race, we’re a lot more consistent where, before, we’d have a bad race and not be able to rebound from it, to where we had a bad race and we rebounded in that race at Indy to come back with a 10th-place finish. I’m looking forward to the Chase. I feel like we’re in a good position to make it. Certainly, we’d like to have a few more wins, but if we don’t get them before the Chase starts, hopefully we can get them throughout the Chase and get ourselves some of those extra three bonus points that come with winning throughout the final 10. We had a great run at Michigan in June and it would be great to get Interstate Batteries and Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) to victory lane and put some more bonus points in the bucket for the Chase.”

Is some of that your own development as a driver?

“Is some of that my own development as a driver from then until now? You can say a little bit of that, certainly, but I’d stem a lot of it on the team guys and them preparing great racecars. It’s good when you can have that consistency between pit stop to pit stop, race to race. It makes you a lot more confident within the team instead of blowing up about it and getting all up in arms about it. For me, it makes my job a lot easier than having to worry about coming down pit road and whether or not we’re going to make the right change to move ourselves forward. I feel confident when I come down pit road that Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys will make a good change for me and we can move ourselves forward.”

Most drivers really seem to enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway. Why is that?

“It’s just a fun place to race and I’m hoping we can get our first Sprint Cup win there this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Camry. 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, I haven’t had too many great finishes to show for it, but the biggest deal is trying to finish and finish up front.”

Even though you enjoy racing at Michigan, you’ve not had a great deal of success there. Are you looking forward to hopefully getting a Michigan win this time around?

“I know Denny (Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 JGR Toyota and the winner of the June 2010 and 2011 races at Michigan) is really looking forward to going back there. Myself and Dave (Rogers, crew chief), we’re going see if we can improve upon our runs there in the past, but June was a good start for us with a third-place finish. I can’t say enough about how much Denny, Mike Ford (No. 11 crew chief) and those guys helped us last time there. Hopefully, there are several places that we can return the favor. That’s what teammates are for. But Pocono and Michigan are two places they run well at that we haven’t quite figured out, so I’m looking forward to all of us at JGR working together and having all of us end up with a good finish.”

You’ve had success at Michigan in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. What is it going to take to get a Sprint Cup win there?

“It’s really a fun racetrack. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the success I’ve wanted there in the Cup cars. I’ve been really good in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series there in the past, but I’m still trying to get that place figured out in the Cup car. Just looking forward to this weekend, trying to go out there and run well with the Cup car and have a good, solid finish for us.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags busch, gibbs, michigan, nascar, toyota