Phoenix: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH Phoenix + Busch Great 'Combo' HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 6, 2010) -- Kyle Busch has been successful at a lot of racetracks during his young career in NASCAR, but perhaps one of the best "Combos" between driver and circuit has been...

KYLE BUSCH
Phoenix + Busch Great 'Combo'

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 6, 2010) -- Kyle Busch has been successful at a lot of racetracks during his young career in NASCAR, but perhaps one of the best "Combos" between driver and circuit has been Busch and the mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

In nine NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Phoenix, Busch has two wins (November 2007 and April 2008), three poles (November 2004, April 2007 and April 2008) and has finished outside the top-12 only once. He has one win (November 2007) and finished 11th or better in all five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events he has started at the mile oval. The Las Vegas native has also found victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix (November 2005), in addition to finishing in the top-10 six times in 10 starts and winning a pole (April 2006).

Add those numbers up and Busch has four wins, four poles and 17 top-10 finishes in 24 races at Phoenix in NASCAR's top-three divisions.

He'll look for his second Nationwide Series victory of 2010 and third at Phoenix while driving the No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in Friday night's Bashas' Supermarkets 200.

The race is the first of three in which Combos is scheduled to serve as primary sponsor of the No. 18, with the other two coming in May at Dover (Del.) International Raceway and in August at the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course.

While Busch is not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, the No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title, and with one win and three top-three finishes, the team is fifth in points after round five of 35. The No. 18 Toyota trails the point-leading No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing entry by 56 points. JGR is gunning for its third-consecutive Nationwide Series owner's championship.

If recent Nationwide Series history at Phoenix is any indication, count on Friday night's race to come down to a mad dash to the finish and, quite possibly, a green-white-checker finish. Amazingly, seven of the nine Nationwide Series events Busch has competed in at Phoenix have been extended past the 200-lap distance due to green-white-checker finishes.

Kyle Busch, No. 18 Combos NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:

You seem to be comfortable at tracks that are short and flat, like Phoenix. Why is that?

"For some reason, I'm always fast on the flat tracks in the Nationwide Series. I just have fun at those types of places. It's fun for me to be able to get the car hung out and loose all the time. But at a flat track like Phoenix, you can't necessarily do that because you lose your forward bite so much and you can't drive up off the corner as well in the Nationwide Series cars. I just seem to be comfortable at the one-mile flat tracks, for some reason. It probably has to do with running some of those types of tracks growing up, and also with my Late Model team."

You won the Nationwide Series races at Phoenix in November 2007 and April 2008. What does it take to be successful there?

"The coolest thing about Phoenix is you have two distinctively different corners. Turns one and two are different than three and four, and there's also a kink in the backstretch. Being able to run well there depends on how well you can turn in the center of turns one and two, yet still have a good drive up off the back straightaway because it's so long and fast. Then, getting into turn three, you really need to rotate. Just past the center of turns three and four, you have a little bit of kink on the apron, where you need to be able to turn and get a good drive off the corner. There are plenty of tricks to that place that you need to know to be successful."

Twice in your Sprint Cup career, you have had Combos as a primary sponsor on the No. 18 Toyota and, each time, you won the race. Talk about having Combos on your Nationwide Series car this week at Phoenix and for two other races in 2010?

"You can never guarantee a win in the Nationwide Series, or any other series for that matter. The Penske guys and (Kevin) Harvick's guys are really on their game right now, so that's who we need to beat. I'm excited to have Combos, which is a part of the Mars family of companies, on board with us three times this year. They've been really great supporters. We were able to bring them a win a couple of years ago at Dover and last year at Richmond (both in the Sprint Cup Series). Both were really special wins. The orange Combos colors have been good luck, thus far. So, hopefully, we can keep it going this weekend at Phoenix."

Jason Ratcliff, crew chief, No. 18 Combos NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:

Overall thoughts headed into Phoenix this weekend?

"Phoenix has been a good track for us. I enjoy it. I enjoy that area. I enjoy the racetrack. I'm looking forward to it. It always seems to be a good place for Kyle. He likes it out there. That's his time zone, I think, so he feels it gives him that much more of an advantage."

Are there any particular challenges practicing and qualifying during the daytime and then coming back to race at night?

"It'll be a bit of a challenge. The spring race is not so bad because the weather is not overbearingly hot. Actually, we seem to struggle more the later we get into the race and the cooler it gets compared to practice. That's where we have the biggest challenge getting a read on the racetrack. We should be good. We've got enough notes to be able to get a good idea of what we need to do."

The Car

Chassis No. 1894: This car made its only start last November at Phoenix, where Busch started fourth and finished ninth.

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Kyle Busch
Teams Roush Fenway Racing