MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 27, 2010) - In a rare appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 18 Toyota of Scranton (Pa.) Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in Saturday's inaugural Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
And as owner of KBM, Kyle Busch couldn't have picked a driver with a better record in the Truck Series as Kahne is undefeated in two series starts, having won races six days apart in November 2004 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. He led an impressive 149 of a possible 284 laps (52 percent) en route to those victories.
Since Nov. 19, 2004, when Kahne won at Homestead, the series has gone through a name change (Craftsman Truck Series to Camping World Truck Series) and conducted 137 races, while 2,079 days will have passed between Kahne's last start and his upcoming race at Pocono.
Yes, Kahne's Camping World Truck Series record is about as good as it can get, but his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series resume at Pocono isn't too shabby, either. He has one win (June 2008), two poles (June 2004 and 2008) and five top-10 finishes in 13 career Sprint Cup starts at the Tricky Triangle. He has never started lower than 20th and has rolled off the grid eighth or better nine times.
For Busch, he will attempt to win as a driver and as an owner while competing in two different time zones. Kahne will look to win for Busch the owner Saturday afternoon at Pocono, while Busch the driver will look to score a victory behind the wheel of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs / Nebraska Furniture Mart Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday night's U.S. Cellular 250 at NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
Busch also hopes a good showing by Kahne can vault the No. 18 Toyota for KBM into first place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner point standings. After Busch's second-place run last week at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, the No. 18 Toyota moved up one spot to second in the standings, just eight points behind the No. 30 truck of Germain Racing.
Kasey Kahne, Driver, No. 18 Toyota of Scranton Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How did it come about for you to run the No. 18 Toyota of Scranton Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Pocono?
"Kyle and I had been talking about it for a while and I told him I was interested in running a truck race or two for KBM this year. He had another obligation with the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday, so he asked if I could race his truck. It's a great opportunity for me to come back to the series and compete with really good equipment. I've watched Kyle put the team together and it's really been impressive how well they've done this year as a first-year team."
Can you talk a little bit about Pocono?
"Pocono has always been a good track for us. The straightaways are so long, you need to get all of the speed down them that you can so you can come off of turn three as fast as possible. I've always liked the uniqueness of the three different corners and the challenge that it presents to the teams to set up your car to be fast at each of the different ends."
Rick Ren, Director of Competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What does it say for Kyle Busch Motorsports that a driver of Kasey Kahne's talent wants to drive for the team?
"I think it's a great opportunity for Kyle Busch Motorsports. It shows the credibility of the race team that Kyle's put together, already, that a guy like Kasey Kahne wants to come over and drive our equipment. Kasey's two-for-two truck racing and he'd probably like to extend that, so I think he's excited about getting to drive our equipment. We run up front weekly and I know when he came over to the shop, he was all excited about it."
Overall thoughts heading into the first-ever Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono?
"We had the (Goodyear tire) test (in May), so that got us some notes. We had Kyle drive the truck, we had Brian Ickler drive the truck and (former KBM driver) Tayler Malsam turned some laps. We got three different viewpoints from guys driving it and Kasey runs really well there. We're kind of going off of what we learned there. We did some stuff with the engine, we did some tire stuff and I think we have enough data that we helped Toyota on the engine side and helped Goodyear on the tire side. I think we'll take that info and apply it. A couple of us have run Pocono in the past (in other series), so we kind of have an idea of what we need there."
What are your thoughts on the multi-truck qualifying format that will take place at Pocono?
"The racetrack is so big, it's almost like cutting a lap at Daytona or Talladega and there's not a lot of time up there. When we used to do the European-style qualifying at the road courses, it really wasn't a bad way to do it. We really need to speed up the qualifying because it can be long on television. Having multiple trucks out there will spice it up a little bit and speed up the program a little. The Truck Series is known for being innovative and I think it'll be something a lot of us will look back on and say, 'Hey, we were part of the first time.'"
Chassis No. KBM-004: This truck made its only start in May at Charlotte (N.C) Motor Speedway, where KBM driver-owner Kyle Busch started from pole and led 69 of 134 laps en route to victory in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.