KYLE BUSCH Going For a Baker's Dozen HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 13, 2010) -- To say the numbers are astounding might be an understatement. Kyle Busch's performance in the NASCAR Nationwide Series during the 2010 season has been nothing short of...
Going For a Baker's Dozen
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 13, 2010) -- To say the numbers are astounding might be an understatement.
Kyle Busch's performance in the NASCAR Nationwide Series during the 2010 season has been nothing short of incredible. The 25-year-old from Las Vegas has competed in only 25 of 30 events this season, yet has managed to score a series-record 12 wins, meaning he's taken the checkered flag in nearly half the races in which he's driven. He's also third in the driver's championship despite running five fewer races than the other four drivers in the top-five.
Busch, who will pilot the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in Friday night's Dollar General 300 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, is attempting to help JGR win its third straight owner's title. With just five races remaining, the No. 18 has a 149-point advantage over the No. 22 team of Penske Racing.
Last week, Busch started from the pole and led 38 of 150 laps at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to score his 12th victory this season and his second in the last three races. He also won three weeks ago at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Thus far in 2010, Busch has led in all but one race in which he's competed, the lone holdout being the August race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. He's led 1,875 laps, nearly 858 more than Brad Keselowski, who is second on the laps-led list. Busch has failed to finish in the top-10 only three times in his 25 races.
It doesn't look like it will get any easier for the competition this week at Charlotte as Busch has won six times in 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile oval, including four of the last five. The last three of his wins (Oct. 2008, Oct. 2009 and May 2010) have come with the No. 18 team, while his May 2008 victory came with Braun Racing. He scored wins in May 2004 and May 2005 with Hendrick Motorsports.
While the statistics look good for Busch, he and crew chief Jason Ratcliff will be using the new-style Nationwide Series car for the fourth time this season. JGR, as an organization, has yet to score a victory with the new model, but Busch's runs have been competitive as he finished in the top-10 with the new car in the three previous races at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Michigan and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
But, as everyone knows, top-10s aren't satisfactory to Busch, Ratcliff and the rest of the Z-Line Designs team. They want to win, and Charlotte might be just the place to continue their "old ways" with a "new" car.
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
What do you think about racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway?
"Charlotte's a tricky track because we practice during the day and then we race at night, so all the practice time you get, the track's really hot, it's really slick and, obviously, it's pretty slow. A lot of stuff changes when you go into the nighttime -- the way the track is, the way the loads are, the way the speed is. For us, it's fun. I enjoy Charlotte. It's a neat place for me to go race at. We have the new Nationwide car there, so that's going to throw a new dynamic into how the weekend goes."
What's the biggest difference from the spring race to the fall race at Charlotte?
"It's a little bit warmer in the spring and summer months -- in the May months -- versus where we are now in October. It's still one of those neat facilities that we get to go to two or three times if you count the All-Star race in the year. I like going there. It's close to home for everybody, so it's not too far out of bed."
Jason Ratcliff, crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
Kyle has won six Nationwide races at Charlotte, including three of the last four with the 18 team. What makes him so good there?
"I think any of the high-banked mile-and-a-half tracks, if you look back, he's been successful at just about all of them. It doesn't matter if it's Texas, Atlanta or Charlotte or whatever. He really likes Charlotte and he and I have talked about that in the past, and I've asked him the same question, 'What do you like more, Charlotte, Atlanta or Texas?' I know he is a fan of all of them and he runs well at all of them, so obviously he would be. He said, 'Charlotte, you just drive it a little bit differently than the others,' and he's just adapted to what that track wants from a driver's standpoint and I think that's why he's done so well there."
How important of a race is Charlotte, given that it's a "home" race for most teams?
"Typically, your family gets to come with you to the racetrack for that one and it's a different feeling because you're not spending every night in a hotel room. It doesn't feel like a race weekend, really. It kind of feels like you have the week off, but yet you still get to go have fun at the racetrack. For me, and I think for everybody else, you're a little more relaxed because you don't have to travel and you get to stay at home. It's fun from that aspect. I think the biggest part for a lot of people is that your family gets to come with you. Everybody wants to win at the hometown track just because there's a lot of family and friends there, either in the garage area or in the grandstands."
How's is the development coming along for JGR with the new-style Nationwide Series car?
"It's coming along well. I'd like to say that, by this point we would have won with the new car. But we've been competitive. At Daytona, we were very competitive and were in position to have a shot at it and, it's Daytona. A lot of people were in position to have a shot at it. But, the car raced well and we were pleased with it. It raced as well as anybody. Michigan, I think, was an eye-opener for us and it shouldn't have been because we haven't really spent a lot of time on the development of the car, unfortunately. We look at it as a positive. Yeah, we're not running well in the new car but, at the same time, it's not like we've spent countless hours and energy on the new car, so there's a lot left out there for us. I felt like, going into Richmond, we did a much better job than we did at Michigan on trying to determine what the car needed. We did some short-track testing and it showed up. We had a top-three car and, at certain points of the race, we had the best car. I can say that. We had trouble on a pit stop and it put us behind. Obviously, we need to get better, but it was a plus knowing that, hey, we did put some time and energy into it and it paid off at the racetrack. Going into Charlotte, I hope we can take it one more step, like we did a Richmond. Hopefully, we can build off that. We've spent more time, now with the car and worked through some things. When we get this car full-time and use it 35 races a year and we focus on that 100 percent, I think we'll be right we need to be."