Kyle Busch Makes his ‘Mark’ at New Hampshire
Z-Line Designs Driver Ties Mark Martin for All-Time Nationwide Series Win Record
In less than eight years, Kyle Busch accomplished what it took Mark Martin to do in 24 – win 49 NASCAR Nationwide Series races. By winning Saturday’s New England 200 Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Busch tied the venerable Martin for the all-time Nationwide Series win record.
“To come out here and win for Z-Line Designs and get the 49th win in their car is awesome,” said Busch, who now has three straight Nationwide Series victories at New Hampshire. “Jim (president and CEO, Z-Line Designs) and Monica Sexton (wife) are back at home. We can’t do it without all of their awesome support. They’re here with us through thick and thin and everything. NOS Energy Drink, Toyota, Nationwide Insurance, the fans and Mark Martin – to tie his record at 49 wins, that’s something that’s pretty awesome.”
The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) started fifth and passed Ricky Stenhouse Jr., on lap 174 to lead the final 33 laps around the 1.058-mile oval. At age 26, Busch earned his 49th career Nationwide Series victory two years younger than Martin was when he won his first Nationwide Series race – the Budweiser 200 on May 30, 1987 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
“I said on TV, he’s (Martin) young at heart and he wants to keep doing what he’s doing,” Busch said. “That’s awesome. For myself to be mentioned in the same category as a Mark Martin or a Sam Ard – (Rob) Moroso was really good, from what I understand. Never really got to see him race, but there were also a few other guys – (Tommy) Houston, I can’t remember them all off the top of my head right now – that made the Nationwide Series and made it exciting in its heyday through the 80s and early 90s, and Mark (Martin) was going at it for a long time through the 90s and 2000s. It’s fun to look back on those and see that my name is atop the list with the rest of those guys. There’s many more to go, hopefully. We can certainly make it a large number one day and we’ll see how that all tallies up in the end.”
The 52-year-old Martin, who congratulated Busch in victory lane, put the milestone in perspective.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Martin said. “I remember watching Kyle – the first time I saw him drive on a mile-and-a-half – I’m not sure where it was, if it was Charlotte or where it was – in a Nationwide car. The way I recall it, it was his first time in a Nationwide car, on a mile-and-a-half racetrack. I watched his first lap and it was like he’d been doing it forever. That right there probably impressed me as much as where he sits today. Some people can learn how to drive these racecars if they really, really want to and work really, really hard at it, but the guys that already know how before they ever do it and they work really hard at it are always more successful. That’s the case with Kyle. He was a natural from the first time he slipped into one of these big stock cars on a big racetrack.
“It’s been amazing to watch and it’s hard for me to get my arms around that he is where he is at his age. It’s amazing. It’s really great that NASCAR is in a position today to give an opportunity to young drivers and get an opportunity because 30 years ago having a 25-year-old driver was not something that a top team would want to have. It’s really cool to see, and I’m just as impressed as everyone else with this guy – every week.”
Busch now has 100 victories across NASCAR’s top three divisions (Sprint Cup – 22; Nationwide – 49; Camping World Truck – 29). He could add to that total again this weekend with a win in Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
“It’s a great opportunity to race in NASCAR and to participate in as many races as we do and to win as often as we have,” said Busch, who won the July 2006 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire. “It takes great teams with everybody from Joe Gibbs Racing and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and all the guys. To Dave (Rogers, No. 18 Sprint Cup crew chief) and to Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) with Eric (Phillips, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crew chief) and Rick Ren (KBM general manager) and everybody there.
“It’s been exciting here the last few seasons, and being able to win as often as we have in the Nationwide Series especially and to tie Mark’s (Martin) record at 49. Of course, all over the NASCAR circuit – to win 100 is pretty cool. We’re halfway to my number. I always said it’s 200, and whether it’s relative to Richard (Petty) or to David Pearson’s – that’s not what I’m out here for. It’s for myself and myself only to be able to achieve a goal. You set your goals high and you try to get out there and do it. If I set a goal that I knew I could reach, then it wouldn’t really be a goal. It’s off on the horizon, it’s a few years down the road, but hopefully one day we get to 200.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Brain Scott, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished 17th and 29th respectively, in the New England 200.
Finishing .304 of second behind Busch in the runner-up spot was Kevin Harvick, while Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five. Kenny Wallace, Michael Annett, Brad Keselowski, Steve Wallace and Justin Allgaier comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 48 laps, with 15 drivers failing to finish the 206-lap race, which was extended six laps by a green-white-checkered finish.
By: joe gibbs racing