KYLE BUSCH Different Race, Same Approach HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 28, 2010) - It's well documented that Kyle Busch isn't a big fan of finishing second in pretty much any race he enters. But he made a rare exception following June's Gillette ...
Different Race, Same Approach
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 28, 2010) - It's well documented that Kyle Busch isn't a big fan of finishing second in pretty much any race he enters. But he made a rare exception following June's Gillette Fusion ProGlide 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway as the talented 25-year-old brought home a runner-up finish but still left the racetrack feeling plenty satisfied with his run that day.
There was one simple reason that the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) left Pocono happy during his first visit of the year - it was his best career finish at the tricky 2.5-mile triangle. Busch had made it no secret that Pocono gave him fits in his 10 previous starts there, with just two top-10 finishes to his credit prior to the second-place run in June.
In fact, not only did the Las Vegas native bring home his best Pocono finish last month, he also started from the pole - his first at Pocono - and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin.
So as the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains just seven weeks later for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the entire M&M's team will look to take the very same approach that yielded a second-place finish the first time around.
While the two annual Sprint Cup Series races at the big and flat triangle are very similar, temperatures typically tend to be warmer the second time around, which makes the track a little more slippery in August as compared to the June event. But despite the slight change in track conditions, Busch hopes to take the same mindset to work this weekend as he comes off his eighth-place run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday, his best Sprint Cup finish since the June race at Pocono.
Last weekend, it appeared Busch's race was over early as a lap-one spin got his day off to an unexpectedly rough start. But Busch and the entire M&M's team didn't panic while working on small repairs to the left-front quarter panel and as a result, brought home a solid top-10 finish which kept the team squarely in sixth in the Sprint Cup standings.
So, as Busch looks to repeat the June magic at Pocono, he is also looking to gain some positive momentum as he hopes to lock his team into the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup with six races remaining before the final cutoff for NASCAR's playoff at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in September.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Does your approach change heading to Pocono for the second time this season?
"A little bit, not much. The biggest thing you change for Pocono, it's just a little bit hotter. It gets a little bit slick. Your lap times will be a little bit slower, so you just have to drive it a little bit differently. Besides all that, really there's not much change there. I hope we can take that same approach we did in June with our M&M's Camry this weekend. You run the racetrack as similarly as you can. You still work on the same things. All the same things seem to be a little bit more escalated because the grip level isn't as high."
How did Eddie D'Hondt do as your spotter this past weekend?
"Things went well. Eddie was with me for all three races and he did a great job. We're going to go have some lunch later this week and talk about a couple of things on how he did, how I liked it, and what maybe Dave (Rogers, crew chief) wants to hear differently. But, so far, so good."
Do drivers have to be more aggressive to stay up front and win races today?
"Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, there was far more give-and-take back in the old days, when you had that old car. I mean, you could race a little bit more. You could pass a little bit more with the old car. Now, everybody is so similar. Everybody runs the same lap times, so it's hard to find that little bit to be better than the next guy. You race for every position, every ounce of racetrack you can find, all the time."
How proud were you of the second-place finish in Pocono in June, given your previous record there?
"Really proud. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and my guys gave me a great racecar. Our M&M's Camry was good. We kept messing with it all day, trying to make it a little bit better. I think it's just the driver here who can make up so much with lap time. Denny (Hamlin, teammate) has this place figured out. I did the best I could. I went from about an F at knowing how to get around here to about an A, and an A didn't get it done. But I was very satisfied with how we ran there, knowing how tough it's been for me there in the past."
Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What's the most difficult part of the track for you?
"The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn't go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you're 8 to 10 mph slower than the guy on your outside, and they're just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway."
Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?
"Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one, we just can't get the cars to turn down there because there's so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a 'buck-40' (140). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you've got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it's tight."