KYLE BUSCH GOOD TRACKS AHEAD HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 19, 2009) -- Kyle Busch and the M&M's team know they have their work cut out for them in the next month. Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is 15th...
GOOD TRACKS AHEAD
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 19, 2009) -- Kyle Busch and the M&M's team know they have their work cut out for them in the next month.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, 70 points behind 12th-place Mark Martin and the last spot in the Chase for the Championship.
The battle for the final spot will come right down to the wire as only 100 points separate 10th-place Greg Biffle from 15th-place Busch, with Matt Kenseth, Martin, Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer sandwiched in-between.
Of those six drivers, only Martin and Busch have won at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway -- the three tracks remaining on the schedule before the 12-driver Chase field is set.
Busch has two wins at Bristol (March 2007 and March 2009) and one win apiece at Atlanta (March 2008) and Richmond (May 2009).
If there is a race for Busch to begin his march toward the top-12, it's this week's Sharpie 500 at Bristol. Busch won the spring race at the .533-mile oval and, in the last two Sprint Cup events at Bristol, the Las Vegas native has led and incredible 793 of 1,003 laps. He led 415 of 500 laps in August 2008 en route to a runner-up finish, and he was at the point for 378 of 503 circuits when he won last March.
Busch and crew chief Steve Addington know they have plenty of work in front of them, but they also know the tracks that have been good to the M&M's team are waiting for them. And they hope those three circuits put them on the right track toward a shot at the championship.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are your thoughts heading into the final three races before the Chase field is set?
"We've got some good tracks coming up. We've had success at all three -- Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. We just need to execute and have good runs and put ourselves in a position to get in the top-12. It's really close, with only 100 points separating six guys, so every point counts. We just need to have good solid runs, keep the big picture in mind and, hopefully, everything will work out."
You've been really strong at Bristol the last three times the Sprint Cup Series has raced there. What are your thoughts as you head to Bristol?
"I'm looking forward to a great race. We had great racecars both times we were there in 2008. The first time, we had the steering box fail on us and spun us out while leading. And then, the second time around, we had a great car there and we got knocked out of the way by (Carl) Edwards. This year, in the spring, we were able to finally finish the deal and win. It was a good day for us. The Snickers Toyota was really fast. We knew it was fast. We knew it was going to be a good racecar given how strong we had been in the fall race of 2008. We fine-tuned on it a little bit here and there. Ultimately, it doesn't really matter where you start there. You have to bide your time, take it easy when you have a car that's good. I feel like Bristol is a good track for us. Along with Lowe's Motor Speedway, it's always been one of my favorite racetracks we go to."
How has your driving style at Bristol Motor Speedway had to evolve with the racetrack?
"Your driving style has had to change at Bristol a lot. Bristol used to be a track where you could charge the corners a little bit and get it right in and down to the bottom of the track. You kind of would go through the middle of the corner and then slingshot out on the exits, and now it's just so smooth that you're easy in, you're kind of easy through the center, and easy off. The track is a little slower than I think it was because they reduced some banking in order to put sort of the progressive banking into it to make the outside groove better for the fans. The fans don't like it because we don't bump each other out of the way as much and spin each other out anymore to try to make a pass. We're actually able to race side-by-side and not hit each other. To me, Bristol is a fun track now. I think it's better than what it was. Both ways are pretty cool. If somebody was to build another one, then build it the way it was or build it the way it is because it would still be a good race. Bristol has come a long way and I'm looking forward to it."
What is the perfect balance for a race at Bristol?
"I think the perfect balance would be some good green-flag racing with a couple of green-flag stops, and yet still having some wrecks. With the racing that we have there -- it's pretty good racing there, now, with the three lanes -- but you don't see as much beating and banging for the one groove that we all had to fight for before because we can go anywhere now. It's good racing, but there's less contact and more room to maneuver around, although you might see a little more of the bump-and-run stuff in the Nationwide Series cars as opposed to the Cup cars. I think the fans have their different opinions and you're never going to be able to please everybody."
Each race in a 36-race season is important, but why is success at Bristol important to a championship drive?
"Anything can happen there and you can get caught up in somebody else's wreck. Things happen so fast there that sometime you don't have anywhere to go. It's not like the big tracks, where you might have the apron or the grass to avoid an accident. You just try to get in a rhythm, avoid the wrecks and put yourself in position to win at the end."