No Siesta this Weekend in Mexico City
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., (April 15, 2008) -- As Kyle Busch walked through the garage area late Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway following his second consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series win, a rival crew member asked him the question that everyone else in the series wanted to know the answer to -- when are you finally going to take a weekend off?
The unfortunate response for Busch's fellow Nationwide Series competitors is that it won't be anytime soon.
While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes its second break of 2008, Busch will literally hit the road to race in Sunday's Mexico 200 Nationwide Series event at the legendary former Formula 1 circuit, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City.
Busch did the same thing during the Sprint Cup Series' first off-weekend back in March, spending Saturday of the Easter weekend by winning the pole and leading four times for a race-high 125 laps in the Nationwide Series race at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway.
In Mexico City, Busch will drive the No. 20 Doosan Infracore Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in Sunday's fourth renewal of the Mexico 200. The race will be the 22-year-old's second venture to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course, as he finished a solid seventh in his debut race on the 2.518-mile, eight-turn circuit in 2006.
The red-hot Busch is coming off dominating, back-to-back wins at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Phoenix. At Texas, Busch led four times for a race-high 126 laps to earn his 12th career Nationwide Series victory, and less than a week later in what some must of thought was dejà vu, Busch led four times from the pole for a race-high 133 laps to score career win No. 13 and his second Nationwide Series triumph at Phoenix.
Just eight races into the 35-race Nationwide Series schedule, Busch has led an astounding 604 laps of the 1,468 laps possible (41.1 percent). In addition to his impressive numbers, Busch, along with his JGR teammates Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, have dominated the Nationwide Series in 2008 by ringing up four wins, three poles and leading 912 of the 1,468 laps possible (62 percent).
Busch expects to add to those gaudy numbers this weekend at Mexico City with longtime JGR partner Doosan Infracore, Korea's largest manufacturer of construction equipment, forklift trucks and machine tools. The Mexico 200 will mark the company's first foray as a primary sponsor in a NASCAR race, with the effort being backed by its U.S. subsidiary, Suwanee, Ga.-based Doosan Infracore America Corp.
While Doosan Infracore couldn't be more thrilled that Busch will spend his off-weekend racing with them south of the border, don't blame the rest of the Nationwide Series garage if they don't share the same kind of enthusiasm.
Kyle Busch -- Driver, No. 20 Doosan Infracore NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry at Mexico City
By winning back-to-back races, you are now third in the Nationwide Series points. Are you considering running for the championship, or are you going to finally take that weekend off that the rest of the field is hoping for?
"The consideration is there, but it's a race-by-race deal for me right now. If I go out and win a bunch of these in a row, we might reevaluate. It's great to be able to come out and race in the Nationwide Series since I have such a blast doing it. Our concentration is on our Cup effort, and we're second in points over there and running consistently near the front every week. We still have to concentrate on the Cup stuff to make sure we stay toward the front in points and make the Chase. If I feel comfortable on how things are going over there, then maybe we'll see how the chips fall on the Nationwide Series side. There's no doubt it's fun having a chance to win in the Nationwide Series each week with how well both these Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have been running so far this year."
You've dominated the last two Nationwide Series races and you've made it look easy. Has it been as easy as it looks?
"No. It's not that easy at all. Carl Edwards had a really strong car at Phoenix and Jeff Burton ran very strong at Texas. Jason Ratcliff and the guys gave me great cars at the last two races, and earlier this season for that matter. Dave Rogers also gave me great stuff in the races I've been with the 20 team this year, but we just haven't had the luck with them and I'm hoping that will change with the Doosan guys in Mexico. Fortunately, we had track position during both wins and the great last pit stop at Phoenix. I wouldn't say it's easy to win races in this series, or any other NASCAR series. Obviously, I missed out on three or four wins in the early part of the year because of some bad luck. The fact that we've led so many laps so far this season in the Nationwide Series, along with the two wins, is just a testament to the equipment at JGR and just being able to get together with some great crew chiefs who really work hard. It's just good chemistry."
For someone who grew up on short tracks, you really seem able to run strong on the road courses, including Mexico City. What are your expectations with the No. 20 team this weekend at Mexico City?
"We should have won that race a couple of years ago (2006) when I got wrecked going for the lead. The race track is a lot of fun. The whole atmosphere and how passionate the race fans are what make it exciting. As far as the race track, they took the chicane out, so I'm really going to miss that part of the track. It was really fun for me to go through the chicane and let the car slide around and then get it slowed down for turn one."
What have you done to hone your road course skills?
"I do the Bondurant school out in Phoenix each year prior to going to Sonoma (Calif.), just to try to get toned back up and get my hands acclimated because you normally get some blisters driving the road courses."
Do you enjoy road course racing, and what do you learn each time you run a road course race?
"For me, I love road racing because it's almost like an off-weekend to me. You get a chance to turn right and left and be kind of crazy. You try not to go off course, but it does happen and you get a chance to rebound as quickly and smoothly as you can. For me, it's just a matter of going out there and relaxing and being as patient as I can be behind the wheel of the car. Sometimes driving it hard isn't the smoothest way around. You just try your best to get through the corners smoothly without losing your momentum."