KYLE BUSCH Uh-Oh, Here Comes the Combo(s) HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 3, 2010) - Entering last Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Kyle Busch had a season-long winning percentage of .500 in ...
Uh-Oh, Here Comes the Combo(s)
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 3, 2010) - Entering last Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Kyle Busch had a season-long winning percentage of .500 in the Nationwide Series.
He exited the Hawkeye State with a winning percentage of .529 after claiming the checkered flag in dominating fashion by leading 209 of 250 laps en route to his 75th victory among NASCAR top three series - Sprint Cup (18), Nationwide (39) and Camping World Truck (18).
The driver of the No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing has won nine of the 17 Nationwide Series races he has entered in 2010, and six of the last seven races he's participated in - Dover, Del.; Charlotte, N.C.; New Hampshire; Chicago; O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind.; and Iowa - with the only "blemish" coming via a seventh-place outing in July at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
He decided not to enter four Nationwide Series events in 2010, yet still resides in third-place in the driver standings, 473 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski. While Busch is not competing for the driver championship, the No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title, and Busch's victory at Iowa vaulted the No. 18 Toyota to first place in the standings, 34 markers ahead of the No. 22 Dodge of Penske Racing.
This week at the Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course, Busch will look to score his first Nationwide Series win at the 2.45-mile road course and continue his chase toward history. With nine victories already in 2010, Busch is just one win away from tying the Nationwide Series record of 10 wins in a season that he shares with the legendary Sam Ard. Busch accomplished the feat in 2008, while Ard was the first to reach the 10-win mark during his championship season of 1983.
Busch has had plenty of success at The Glen, having scored one win (2008) and four top-10 finishes in five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the historic road course. In three Nationwide Series starts, Busch scored runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009.
Should Busch continue his incredible streak with a victory at The Glen, it would put the talented Las Vegas native just eight victories behind all-time Nationwide Series race-win leader Mark Martin, whose record currently stands at 48 victories. Busch's win last week at Iowa was the 39th of his young career.
As if Busch didn't have enough momentum on his side, his No. 18 Toyota Camry will feature a Combos paint scheme at Watkins Glen. Busch and Combos are four-for-five together as the 'Combo' won Sprint Cup Series races in June 2008 at Dover and May 2009 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, while also winning Nationwide Series races earlier this season in April at Phoenix International Raceway and in May at Dover. A second-place finish in June 2009 in the Nationwide Series race at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., serves as the only 'loss,' for Busch and Combos.
All told, with Combos serving as primary sponsor, Busch has led 640 of 1,455 possible laps. At Watkins Glen, he'd love nothing more than to improve his resume to 5-1 with Combos while also making more history and setting more records.
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Combos NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
What is it about your driving style and the cars in this Nationwide Series that makes you successful?
"I really like these cars. I've really grown accustomed to these things and learned how to drive them. You can really drive the Nationwide cars hard because they don't have a whole lot of horsepower. So you can really try to make up a lot by being able to get more out of the car, driver-wise, versus a Cup car, which you'd have to slow down and finesse a little bit more."
How special was it for you to get your 75th NASCAR victory last weekend?
"It's pretty big. It's a lot of them, but it's not quite where I want to be. The big number is 200 so, hopefully, I can get there. We're 25 away from cracking halfway, there, and I might be able to get it here in the next two years, so that would be pretty cool. I just can't believe that 54 of them came driving a Toyota. That's an incredible number, and they've been a huge supporter of mine throughout the last few years, obviously with JGR in the Cup and Nationwide stuff, but also this year with my Camping World Truck Series team. I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me."
What is it about that Combos paint scheme that has been so successful for you?
"I'm not sure why we've been so successful with Combos. Everyone from Mars - M&M's, Doublemint, Snickers, Combos, Pedigree - they've been such great partners for us. I'm glad we get to take them to victory lane and I'd obviously love to keep that impressive record with Combos going. It's pretty incredible."
Do you enjoy road course racing?
"I love road racing because it's almost like an off weekend to me. You get a chance to turn right and left and be kind of crazy. You try not to go off course, but it does happen and you get a chance to rebound as quickly and smoothly as you can. For me, it's just a matter of going out there and relaxing and being as patient as I can be behind the wheel of the car. Sometimes, driving it hard isn't the smoothest way around. You just try your best to get through the corners smoothly without losing your momentum. I was able to learn that in a short time period."
Jason Ratcliff, crew chief, No. 18 Combos NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
Can you talk about the amazing run the No. 18 team is having right now?
"Every time we go out and win another race, it's like, 'Wow, I can't believe it.' Every time you think it can't get any better than this, you keep winning. Am I surprised? No, because I think the people who work in this organization work hard and deserve to win races. Not that everyone else doesn't deserve to win races, but one thing is for sure, and that is that the guys on this team have put the effort in every week and it's paying off for them. I'm not surprised, but it is exciting every time we get to go to victory lane. To be able to do it time after time - every time you go to victory lane - you celebrate it as though you'll never be back. And when you do get to go back, it's special. So, I'd like to go and do it again this week at Watkins Glen."
Talk about setting up for Watkins Glen this week.
"We ran there with Kyle last year and had a good run. He's always run well at The Glen and won a Sprint Cup race there in 2008. He's a good road racer. Actually, there's really not a bad track for the guy. Every week, we feel like we can go out and win the race. We've got some good notes from last year when we finished second. A couple of months ago, we ran Road America with Brad Coleman and we ran well there. So, we'll kind of take what we had at Road America and start there and then, based off what Kyle's feedback is, we'll adjust. I think we'll go out and run in the top-five and, if we can keep up with (Marcos) Ambrose and some of the other road course guys, we can have an opportunity to win it."
Chassis No. 1864: This car was built in 2005 but served as a backup for several road course races until its debut in August 2007 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where Brad Coleman started 12th and finished fifth. The car then made two starts in 2008. Busch started sixth and led 22 of 80 laps en route to victory in April of that year at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City. The other start in 2008 came in August at Watkins Glen, where Busch finished second to Marcos Ambrose after starting seventh and leading 12 laps. In 2009, Busch finished second with chassis 1864 in August at Watkins Glen and scored a 10th-place result later that month at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course in Montreal. The last start for the car came in June 2010 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., where Coleman started fourth and led seven laps before finishing sixth.