KYLE BUSCH Back To Where It All Started MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 20, 2010) -- Everyone has to make his or her first NASCAR start somewhere. And for Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, that "somewhere" was ...
Back To Where It All Started
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 20, 2010) -- Everyone has to make his or her first NASCAR start somewhere. And for Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, that "somewhere" was O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) in Clermont, Ind.
Busch was barely 16 years old on Aug. 3, 2001, when he made his NASCAR debut in the Power Stroke Diesel 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at what was then Indianapolis Raceway Park. Nine years later, the names have changed as the track is now known as O'Reilly Raceway Park and the series is called the Camping World Truck Series.
The Las Vegas native raised some eyebrows that night as he wheeled the No. 99 Eldon Ford for Roush Fenway Racing to a solid ninth-place finish after starting 23rd.
Nine years later, Busch returns to ORP to drive his own truck in Friday's AAA Insurance 200 presented by J.D. Byrider. Since that August night in 2001, Busch has collected one NASCAR Nationwide Series championship (2009) and an incredible 73 victories in NASCAR's top three touring divisions (Sprint Cup --18, Nationwide -- 37, Camping World Truck -- 18).
All of Busch's success came after a brief, unscheduled break in his NASCAR career. After his debut at ORP, Busch competed in five more Truck Series events before an unexpected ruling by NASCAR that enacted a minimum age requirement for competitors in its top three series sidelined Busch until his 18th birthday.
ORP is a place Busch where has been successful, having won two Nationwide events (2004 and 2008) and never finishing lower than 11th in four career Truck Series starts. He'd like nothing more than to get a victory Friday night and also close the gap in the Camping World Truck Series owner standings.
The No. 18 Toyota is third in the championship, just 32 points behind the championship-leading No. 30 truck of Germain Racing and only 10 markers back of the second-place No. 2 truck of Kevin Harvick Inc.
Kyle Busch, Driver, No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Do you consider ORP a companion race since it's in the same city and very close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
"The race at ORP is a not a companion race, exactly, since you have to travel back and forth either driving or on the helicopter. But it's an easy and fun race to do. We'll still travel a bit back and forth during the weekend. We're going to run the truck race on Friday night and the Nationwide Series race on Saturday night. Then, Sunday, we're still in town and will run and the Cup race at Indy, so that will be a big weekend. You don't have to go that far. You just have to go over to ORP in Clermont. Racing at ORP is big for us. The whole weekend is big."
You've had some success at ORP before. Can you talk about that?
"Obviously, ORP has been a great place for me. I started my first ever NASCAR race there back in 2001 when I was just 16. I won there in a Hendrick car when I was a Nationwide Series rookie, when our crew chief made a great call to pit off sequence. In 2008, I think we led all but three laps and won in the Z-Line Designs Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. It's a fun track and I think we'll be pretty strong there and I'd obviously like to get my Truck Series win at ORP. We've run well there in the past and hopefully we can put the Toyota Tundra in victory lane and get some owner points."
Rick Ren, Director of Competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Talk about what it's like to have Kyle going back and forth between two racetracks during a one-day Truck show. Does that make it challenging for the team?
"You've just got to make sure you have your ducks in a row and get your logistics right. We have a helicopter on standby and, basically, we're going to make that decision when we draw our qualifying order. If we're one of the first five trucks to qualify -- Cup practice stops 35 minutes before qualifying starts, so there's no way he can make it by vehicle. He would have to come by air. If we get a late draw, he can probably drive over here by car. You've just got to be prepared."
Thoughts on Kyle being back in the truck after not running in the No. 18 Toyota since Michigan?
"What Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and I were talking about, which was pretty cool, is that Kyle has not driven one of our short-track trucks, yet. Brian (Ickler, teammate) talks about how good they turn and how well they drive, so we're kind of waiting for Kyle to get in and give us his two cents."
Talk about O'Reilly Raceway Park. What type of track is it, and what memories do you have there?
"I personally grew up 85 miles from ORP (in Tilton, Ill.), so to me it will always be IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park). I remember watching Evil Knievel jump there in 1976 during the country-wide bicentennial celebration. So, IRP is a special place for me. I've been fortunate to win a couple of Truck Series races there. So, it's special for me to go there and to win there. I have a lot of family and friends. It's a momentum race. The shape of the racetrack -- it's easy to overdrive that race. It is a challenge for setting the truck up, but it is also a challenging one to drive. You really have to finesse it at that track. We're really looking forward to having Kyle in the truck there."
Obviously the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has 101 years of history, but is ORP an important race because of how big a racing town Indianapolis is?
"It's big. A lot of the big corporate people, the automotive people, come out. There are just a few races that really stand out for them. So a lot of big players are in Indianapolis. What else is there to do on a Friday night and a Saturday night than go to a Truck Series race and a Nationwide race in preparation for the Brickyard? It's a lot of people and it's a good time for drivers, pit crews and teams to showcase their talent in front of all the big players in the business."
Kyle Busch's Toyota Tundra: Chassis No. KBM-134: This truck was tested by KBM driver Brian Ickler on Jan. 13-14 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and again on March 16 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Ickler then drove the truck in the March 27 Kroger 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where he finished third after starting 32nd due to qualifying being rained out.