KYLE BUSCH TRIFECTA AT TEXAS? HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 3, 2010) - Kyle Busch brought home a piece of history at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August when he became the first driver ever to win all three of NASCAR's national series races...
TRIFECTA AT TEXAS?
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 3, 2010) - Kyle Busch brought home a piece of history at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August when he became the first driver ever to win all three of NASCAR's national series races in the same weekend.
As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series descends upon Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday's AAA Texas 500, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will be looking to duplicate his historic feat by seeking a little Texas redemption at the track where he came dangerously close to first accomplishing a history-making three-race sweep a year ago this weekend.
Prior to his landmark accomplishment at Bristol in August, last November at Texas was the closest Busch had come to pulling off the feat. After winning Friday nights Camping World Truck Series race. Then Saturday afternoon's Nationwide Series event, the talented 25-year-old, with Dave Rogers debuting as his Sprint Cup crew chief, took aim at Sunday's 500-mile race trophy and accompanying cowboy hat. He was well on his way, leading six times for a race-high 232 laps and showing he had the dominant car all Sunday afternoon. But, a mere 4.5 miles before he was to take the checkered flag, Busch's racecar ran out of gas - a heartbreaking three laps around the 1.5-mile high-banked oval.
Nonetheless, last November at Texas marked the fifth time in his young career that Busch won two out of the three NASCAR races in the same weekend. The first came at Phoenix International Raceway in the fall of 2007 (first in Camping World Truck, first in Nationwide, eighth in Sprint Cup), followed by the 2008 spring weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. (first in Camping World Truck, 24th in Nationwide, first in Sprint Cup), February 2009 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., (first in Camping World Truck, first in Nationwide, eighth in Sprint Cup), and August 2009 at Bristol (first in Camping World Truck, 28th in Nationwide, first in Sprint Cup).
The Las Vegas native is again scheduled to compete in all three remaining Nationwide and Truck Series race weekends left this season, in addition to his primary duties as the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Sprint Cup Toyota, giving him three chances to repeat his August sweep at Bristol beginning this weekend.
Busch scored the aforementioned Truck Series win in his most recent outing in that series at Texas last November, which bodes well for his outlook Friday night. Then, Saturday, he'll be looking to make it an incredible six Nationwide Series wins in a row at Texas, having swept both Nationwide events there in 2008 and 2009, and adding a fifth consecutive win this past April. On the Sprint Cup side, Busch has four finishes of sixth or better in his last six outings in the No. 18 M&M's Toyota, including a solid third-place run last April.
So, as Busch focuses his mind on notching his first Sprint Cup win at Texas this weekend, he's also hoping, with a little Texas redemption, that a Sunday-afternoon visit to victory lane turns out to be his third of the weekend.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You narrowly missed a sweep last fall at Texas. What, do you believe, is your chance of completing that feat this weekend?
"I would like to try and win all three again, for sure. I set out to do that every weekend, but that's not an easy thing to accomplish. The Nationwide race, going for six in a row, it's going to be awfully exciting. I can't think of a better place than Texas, with Eddie Gossage (president, Texas Motor Speedway) and all those guys out there who do such a great job with that facility. To get six in a row at that place would be cool. Of course, maybe we can get to where we should have been last year in the fall race there and win the triple again. I felt like we had a really good car in the Cup race, too. So we had a shot there and we're definitely closing in on our first Cup win there with our M&M's Camry this weekend since we've been really competitive the last couple of Cup races there."
Competing in all three events at Texas, what does it do for your confidence by having a good run, or even a victory in the Truck and/or Nationwide race?
"I'm used to doing all three, so it isn't that big of a deal jumping from different cars. I think racing on Friday and Saturday helps me in a lot of ways. The momentum of winning a Truck or Nationwide race certainly doesn't hurt when it comes to the Cup race. But also, even bigger than that, is that I feel like I learn so much from those races that I can apply to Sunday. If I'm running all three, by the time Sunday rolls around, I've already been on pit road almost a dozen times and I also have learned what lines are working and also how the track reacts to changes and we can apply those to the Cup car. I usually talk to Dave (Rogers, Sprint Cup Series crew chief) after a Nationwide or Truck race and tell him what I felt during the race and, also, Jason (Ratcliff, Nationwide Series crew chief) will talk to Dave and tell him what he thinks, as well. I feel like it makes me a better driver but, also, it helps my team with the information I can gather from the two races I've already run."
You've said you feel your learning curve with crew chief Dave Rogers has shortened. This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of your pairing as driver and crew chief for the No. 18 M&M's team. Has your communication progressed and is your driver/crew chief relationship where you would like it?
"I'm still learning things every weekend. I've been doing a lot of stuff this year around Dave, trying to learn Dave as a person, trying to learn, still, how to work with the team. We've been getting a lot better. This is mine and Dave's first year working together. That's not an excuse, but we've gotten a lot better from where we were. We've done really, really well, I feel like. We've been a lot more consistent this year. We've had some troubles, we've had some bad runs or some mediocre runs, but those are racetracks we typically have problems at, anyway. And, we've had some really good runs at tracks where I haven't been good at, like Pocono and Martinsville, for example. It's been a learning year for us both with working together and getting used to each other and getting better going to the racetracks for a second time. And this would be the first track we've gone to for the third time together. We've been good, at times during races. We've been in the top-five, but we don't run consistently there through the whole race. We'll make an adjustment that might take us back a little bit, but the next stop we'll make a change that gets us right back up there in the race."
You've had success at Texas Motor Speedway, recently. Are you getting more comfortable there each time you go back?
"It used to not be so much. I had some wild races there early on in my career and it wasn't one of my favorite places, for whatever reason. Things have gone well, recently. Obviously, the Nationwide Series wins the last couple of years and getting the win in the Truck Series last year have been real confidence boosters there. I have sort of learned how to drive it a little bit better and I know what I need in my racecar to make it easier. Finishing third or fourth in the Cup Series since coming to JGR has been a confidence-booster there. I can't seem to get that win in Cup that's eluded me, even though we've been close. So, hopefully, that's something we can change this weekend."
At the beginning of the season, NASCAR announced a hands-off approach to regulating on-track racing and told drivers to "Have at it, boys." How do you think that has worked so far?
"I think it's been all right. It's probably not done, yet, this year. We've still got three more events to go, so there's plenty of time for guys to get crazy and mad at each other - myself included, I guess. It's been fun. It's been a way that us drivers can police ourselves a little bit more than maybe NASCAR stepping in, but I think it's gone well. There is a point at which NASCAR does need to step in, and they have. It's good to show that they will still prove they have the most control. Us drivers can do what we want to do all day long and wreck each other every weekend, but there is going to be a point at which NASCAR says, 'All right, idiots. Figure it out. This is over with.' It's good to have that."