This Week in Ford Racing July 9, 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Kyle Busch, the 17-year-old brother of Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch, had to put his NASCAR career on hold last December when an age limit was announced for competitors of ...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 9, 2002
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
Kyle Busch, the 17-year-old brother of Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch, had to put his NASCAR career on hold last December when an age limit was announced for competitors of NASCAR-sanctioned events. Busch, who competed in six Craftsman Truck Series events in 2001 before sitting out the season finale at California Speedway, will not meet the 18-year-old age requirement until May 2, 2003, but rather than sit on the sidelines waiting for that day to approach, Busch moved to Hicksville, Ohio, with his father, Tom, to continue his racing career. Busch is currently competing in ASA competition in the unsponsored No. 07 Ford leased by Roush Racing. With a season's-best fourth-place finish three weeks ago at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo., Busch currently sits ninth in the point standings after 10 of season's 20 events. Busch spoke about how the NASCAR-mandated age restriction has affected his racing career and what he hopes to gain from the experience.
KYLE BUSCH-Roush Racing-
YOU HAD TO CHANGE YOUR RACING PLANS IN DECEMBER WHEN NASCAR PUT AN AGE RESTRICTION ON ITS COMPETITORS. TALK ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE DECEMBER.
First of all, last year we got kicked out of the trucks, somewhat, so basically we had to find something for us to do, and Roush came across this ASA deal with Noah Yoder here in Hicksville, Ohio. We're trying to get the best results we can out of this thing and we're working the hardest that we can. We have a shop set up in the back of Noah Yoder's Ford dealership and my dad and my crew chief from Las Vegas all moved out here. I also have another guy here helping out and couple of part-timers, but that's pretty much it. Last year, in my mind, I wanted to race trucks this year, so I planned on graduating high school a year early and did so, and all of those plans were thrown down the drain last year around December. This was the best opportunity we could find in the short amount of time we had between December and February. Now that we're here, we're trying to do the best that we can."
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU CAN LEARN FROM SPENDING A YEAR IN ASA?
Any experience is good experience to have. I've got my crew chief, Jimmy Parker, and he knows way more than I think most guys would think, so he's helping me a ton to learn about these things and learn what types of changes need to be made and when. We're running fairly decent and we have our new car right now. We're trying to get it done, get it ready to go for this weekend's race in Jennerstown (Pa.). This is somewhat like the Legends operation we had last year. My dad and I were pretty much the head of the team with Jimmy just behind us. We're learning a lot of what to do and what not to do by trial and error. It takes time to get used to a new type of car both from the driver's side and crew chief side of things, but I think we're making good progress."
HOW HARD HAS IT BEEN TO ADAPT TO THE ASA CARS COMPARED TO THE NASCAR TRUCKS?
The trucks are a lot less forgiving than a car and I don't think it matters what series you're talking about. The trucks just have less downforce and that makes them a lot harder to handle, and I'd rather be in trucks this year than ASA. Obviously, the truck series is a step higher and a step closer to Winston Cup, but since we are here in ASA we're trying to find those things that are similar so that we can use that when we get back in the trucks next year. We're racing 3,000-pound cars with radial tires in ASA, just like the truck, except the trucks are 3,400 pounds. Basically, the mentality of the car with radial tires and the mentality of the truck with radial tires are somewhat the same. You have to go about the changes the way that you would on a truck instead of a Late Model, and that's where we're still learning what those changes are."
HOW HARD IS IT TO REMAIN FOCUS WHEN YOU KNOW IT'S JUST A ONE-YEAR DEAL IN ASA?
I would say that we're running this thing is the way that Roush runs the truck deal. Even though it's just a one-year deal, we want to go out and do our best and show that I can actually drive anything that I get in, and do the best that I can in any series. I think that being here won't hurt me one bit, but it will just slow the process down of what Roush had planned for me by one year. I'm here in the shop with my day, sometimes 18 hours a day, trying to get the car ready from week to week, so I'm definitely learning a lot about these cars. Right now, we're doing this thing unsponsored, and I think if I was in the truck this year that we would have been able to find some sort of sponsorship, so that's makes this even tougher. I'm happy that I've been able to find something that has kept me involved in racing, but like I said earlier, this will probably slow my progression down a year from what we originally thought."
YOUR HIGHEST FINISH IN THE SERIES CAME THREE WEEKS AGO AT I-70.
I'd say that they're on an eight or a nine level and we're probably down at a three or four right now just because of the car we had before. We found out there was a bent clip on it and we raced it that way for the first 10 races. Hopefully, with this new car, the straighter the piece the faster it will go. If this thing is really what it seems to be, we should be pretty good and be able to be competitive with the other guys. Hopefully, this is all we need to close the gap to the front runners. This is probably the toughest series that I've ever seen, and when you don't have the best piece of equipment, I don't know if you can overcome that here."
DO YOU FEEL THAT MONEY COMPENSATES FOR TALENT IN ASA RACING?
The way that the top five in points are, you can definitely see they're the higher budgeted teams. The ones farther down the line just have one or two cars and they're struggling to make the payments to get it to the next week. Us here, we're in-betweeners. We're ninth in points and with the funding that we do have, I'd like to be in the top five by the end of the year.
THE LARGEST TRACK THAT YOU'VE COMPETED ON THIS YEAR WAS THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILE. WITH THE NEW MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS BEING BUILT FOR NASCAR COMPETITION, DO YOU FEEL THERE'S A VOID IN THE ASA SCHEDULE?
For the short tracks that we do run on the truck series and even the mile tracks, the flat tracks, it gives you a lot of sense on how to save your brakes. I think it's good experience to teach you that you don't want to use as much brakes as you probably should. You also don't have very much brake ducting in these cars and there's not a whole lot of stuff that you can do because of the rules. This is pretty much a spec series, and we're working with what we have to work with and trying to get the most out of it. You run the same motor all year long and it's a spec motor, and the only thing that is different on these cars are the manufacturer logos on the hood."
HOW MUCH HAS ROUSH RACING BEEN ABLE TO HELP YOU THIS YEAR?
It was a run-the-year deal and try to get through it and we'll see you back next year in the trucks. I still talk to the people at Roush, maybe once a week, but there's not a lot they can help us with in ASA. Basically, Roush bought this thing for the year. He rented the team, and I think that if we did have more money and more time - time is the issue here more than anything - we'd like to go test and try to test at every track that we went to. That's what Joey Clanton and a couple of these other guys are doing. That's why they're winning all of the races and doing so well. We're kinda on the low-budget side and we're on less time and we really don't have the efforts to go out and test. A lot of the tracks I'm going to, I'm seeing them for the first time, and in some cases, the last time. I'm just out there trying to show I can adapt to any track, drive any track in any type of car. If you look at it one way, this year could be considered a setback, but I'm just trying to look at it as good experience for the future."