KYLE BUSCH Always a Threat to Win on the Road (Course) HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 16, 2010) - Before 2008, nobody even thought to mention Kyle Busch as a threat to win either of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' two annual road course ...
Always a Threat to Win on the Road (Course)
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 16, 2010) - Before 2008, nobody even thought to mention Kyle Busch as a threat to win either of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' two annual road course events.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Pedigree® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), changed all of that shortly after his arrival at JGR at the start of 2008, as he dominated the road course scene that year, leading 130 of a total of 202 road course laps and capturing victories at both Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Much like NASCAR regulars who are known to be strong on the road courses, most notably Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, Busch quickly established himself two seasons ago as a routine road course contender.
After getting shut out on the road courses in 2009, despite a strong fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen last August, the talented 25-year-old hopes to resume his road course dominance from 2008 as the series heads back to Sonoma for Sunday's Toyota/SaveMart 350k.
The third-year JGR driver, who already has two Sprint Cup wins to his credit this season, hopes the 10-turn, 1.99-mile venue will bring the Pedigree team 10 more of those precious bonus points this weekend. While Busch sits comfortably in second in the Sprint Cup championship standings, only 22 points behind leader Kevin Harvick, he also knows he needs to rack up a few more wins before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup arrives in September in order to be one of the higher-seeded players in NASCAR's version of the playoffs.
If past history has anything to do with it, Sonoma has the potential for Busch to add more bonus points to his tally. He'll battle such favorites as teammate Denny Hamlin and, of course, four-time and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, among others, for the season-ending championship.
So as the Sprint Cup Series heads to its annual stop in Northern California's wine country, everyone knows Busch is capable of winning at "home" surroundings out west, just like he did at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway last season. But they also know he's always a threat to win "on the road" this weekend at Sonoma.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Do you enjoy road course racing?
"The road courses are fun. For me, I enjoy it. It's pretty cool to go out there and race the road courses. You get to turn right, turn left and everything, so it's fun. Sonoma is more technical just because there are more turns and it's a little bit slower. You have to concentrate on getting off the corner a little bit and have good forward bite. Sonoma in our Pedigree Toyota is going to be fun, going out there and seeing what these cars have this year. The spoiler is probably not going to be much different with the speed we carry there. It's not that fast. I think the fastest we get is maybe 130 mph or something. It will be a fun race, though. I always look forward to going up there and challenging the road course."
Are you concerned about getting the point lead right now?
"It would be nice to be as high as you can be, but the most important thing right now is the tally of wins, just to get yourself seeded a little bit better for the Chase. Sonoma is a place where we feel we can run well. We've done a good job where we're at. We've had some races that we might have let slip away a little bit or haven't quite had a shot to win. The win total is what we're looking for. Whether we're first, eighth, whatever - you want to be locked in with a couple races to go like I was in 2008. We had a pretty good lock on the field and where we were. Those are the best scenarios, so you don't really have to worry about racing for points in the three or four races before the Chase starts. You can strictly go out there and try to build speed and get a win."
How did you go from no experience on road courses to "road course expert" in a matter of a few short years?
"In the past, I've done the Bondurant School out in Phoenix each year prior to going to the Infineon race, just to try and get toned back up and get my hands acclimated, because you normally get some blisters driving the road courses. This year, I just haven't had the opportunity to do that, but we did test at the road course down at Kershaw, S.C. The test went well and I got back up to speed with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) on what I like in my road course cars and hope that helps us this weekend. Dave and I have won on a road course together at Mexico City before, so hopefully we can keep that streak going on the Cup side this weekend."
What's your favorite part of racing at Infineon?
"The elevation changes can make it a lot of fun but, in the beginning, I was lost at Infineon, to be honest with you. I raced Legends cars and road courses there five years ago and learned the technique and stuff of shifting and braking and all that, and then got to the Cup cars and they are so different. I was just lost. I give a lot of that credit to testing with Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) a lot of times and learning a lot from those guys when I was at Hendrick and working with them. And, of course, more of that expertise goes to Max Papis, our test driver at Hendrick, and learning stuff from him and reading reports that he did and picking up on it, following guys like Boris Said and Robby Gordon, the guys who are good at it and fast at it."