KYLE BUSCH Trying To Get All His Ducks - err, Wins - in a Row HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 1, 2010) - Much has been made of Kyle Busch's four consecutive wins - and counting - in NASCAR's top three national touring series heading into this...
Trying To Get All His Ducks - err, Wins - in a Row
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 1, 2010) - Much has been made of Kyle Busch's four consecutive wins - and counting - in NASCAR's top three national touring series heading into this weekend's action that culminates with Sunday night's Emory Healthcare 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.
It's not like he hasn't done it before, though.
Earlier this season, the 25-year-old driver of the No. 18 Pedigree® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) reeled off four consecutive wins across NASCAR's top three series. It started with a sweep of the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 15 and 16, continued with a Camping World Truck Series victory at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 21, and was capped by his Nationwide win back at Charlotte on May 29.
But that four-race streak, understandably so, seemed to fly under the radar compared to the fanfare that has accompanied Busch's current victory march, for this one was launched in historic fashion two weeks ago at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where Busch became the first driver ever to win all three of NASCAR's national series races in the same weekend.
And his momentum carried straight through from Bristol to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., last Friday night with another Truck Series victory that put the talented Las Vegas native in the history books a second time alongside some rather elite company. Billy Wade (1964), David Pearson (1966 and 1968), Cale Yarborough (1976), Darrell Waltrip (1981) and Mark Martin (1993) are also four-time winners in consecutive NASCAR events.
By the time the checkered flag falls on Sunday night's Sprint Cup event at Atlanta, Busch could find himself having leapfrogged past another handful of legendary NASCAR competitors on the all-time winning streak list with Friday night's Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and Saturday night's Nationwide Series race at Atlanta also on the docket.
Should Busch emerge victorious at Kentucky, he'll join Fred Lorenzen (1964), Richard Petty (1971), Bobby Allison (1971) and Pearson (1973) with five wins in a row. Saturday's Nationwide race could then put Busch alongside Harry Gant (1991) with a six-race winning streak. And Sunday's Emory Healthcare 500 would then be Busch's opportunity to make it seven wins in a row and join Mark Martin (1993) with the second-longest streak in history. Petty's 10-race streak of Sprint Cup wins in 1967 is the longest.
All talk of winning streaks aside, the more pressing matter, as it has been all season long for Busch and the No. 18 Pedigree® Toyota team, is making the all-important Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the 12-driver cutoff for which occurs after just two more races. Unlike last year, when Busch came into this race in 13th place in the points, 34 markers behind 12th-place Matt Kenseth, he comfortably sits in third place with a whopping 350-point cushion over 13th-place Jamie McMurray and can clinch his berth in this year's Chase with a finish of 40th or better - 42nd or better if he leads at least one lap.
Then again, should he manage to click off another couple of wins in his Truck Series and Nationwide Series events before then, it's not a good bet Busch will be cruising around safely and comfortably at the back of the pack come Sunday night, is it?
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Pedigree® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What is your explanation for winning four of NASCAR's top-tier series races in a row?
"It comes down to a great team and great equipment and stuff like that. I've really been fortunate to be put in some of these situations and it's a lot of fun to do it. Unfortunately, I had some bad luck at the dirt track running the TORC truck, but obviously had a great weekend in Chicago after a great week in Bristol. It was exciting to get the triple at Bristol, since it was a goal of mine. You always have to set goals and it's fun when you can obtain them like that. I hope we can keep our momentum going in the truck race at Kentucky, the Nationwide race at Atlanta, and with our Pedigree Toyota on the Sprint Cup side at Atlanta."
Does your team have the ability to "turn it on" once the Chase starts?
"Before Bristol, I would have said I'm not sure. We're working really hard. The guys have been doing a great job. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) works harder than anybody out there. We've got to work on our mile-and-a-half program a bit, so this weekend in Atlanta will be good to try some things out. It just seems like it's a tenth-and-a-half off on some of the big tracks. We're always a tenth-and-a-half, two-tenths off. We're trying to find it, trying to figure out where it's at. Bristol was a big confidence booster for this team, so were hoping it gives us some momentum that we need during the Chase."
You've had some success at Atlanta with four wins over a span of six races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, along with your Sprint Cup win there in 2008. Does that mean you're really looking forward to going back to Atlanta?
"Yes and no. We ran well there when we won in 2008 but, last year, we struggled trying to get our car handling right there and we never really hit on it. I know Dave (Rogers, crew chief) has been working hard on our setup so we can be competitive there. We were competitive in the spring late in the race, but just got involved in someone else's mess and hurt our run. Atlanta definitely doesn't have much grip, but I still seem to like it. There are so many lines. You can run anywhere on the track and I love that. Coming off turn two, if you're running the low line and start to slide up, you have a tendency to get sideways. But, otherwise, it's a really fun track. It's really a driver's track because, when you get about 40 laps on your tires, you really start to slide around and that can be a handful."
Some talk this weekend will certainly be centered on Atlanta trimming back to one race in 2011. Are you disappointed that Atlanta lost one Sprint Cup race?
"For me, I run really well at Atlanta in the trucks and the Nationwide cars, but have struggled really badly in Cup cars there, except for my first time with JGR in 2008. To only have to go there once - Nationwide only goes once there, anyway; trucks only go there once, anyway, so for Cup to only go there once - it's a tough place to miss a date because there is some great racing there. You can run all over the place - go high, go low. There are some other racetracks on the circuit that probably could be worth losing a date on. I feel like it's going to be fun to go to Kentucky, as well. From the Nationwide crowds they've had, they're pretty deserving. I get to go run the truck race there this weekend before we head to Atlanta. I'm going to go run there Friday night before the Atlanta weekend and see what the crowd's like for a truck event. I bet it will be pretty good, knowing that they've got a Cup race coming up."