KYLE BUSCH Strength in the Face of Adversity HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 6, 2010) - Former college football coach and current ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz once said, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you ...
Strength in the Face of Adversity
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 6, 2010) - Former college football coach and current ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz once said, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it."
For Kyle Busch, his crew chief Dave Rogers, and the entire No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry team of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the response to adversity in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City said a lot about the strength of the entire organization.
With Busch running in the top-10 on lap 156 of the 267-lap race, he and the No. 00 Toyota of David Reutimann exited turn two with Busch on the high side and Reutimann's car on the low side. Reutimann's car moved up the track and slammed into the left side of Busch's machine, causing severe damage to the rear end of the M&M's Toyota.
It would have been easy to throw in the towel at that point, but Busch and Rogers did the exact opposite. They worked on their wounded racecar for the remainder of the 400-mile event and brought home an impressive 21st -place finish on a day that had the potential to be much worse.
While the Kansas race was the first strength test for the M&M's team, the next challenge will be how it responds in its next performance review - Sunday's Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Even though Busch fell from third to seventh in the championship standings after Kansas, the talented 25-year-old sits just 80 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson heading into the fourth round of the 10-race Chase for the Championship. A lot can happen in seven races, and Busch knows the Sprint Cup title is still very much within reach.
Looking at the next six events on the schedule - Auto Club Speedway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Phoenix International Raceway - certainly helps boost the confidence of the No. 18 team as they head west to Fontana. In Busch's first visit to those racetracks earlier this season, he accumulated more points (853) than any other driver currently in the 12-man Chase. And that point tally might have been even higher had it not been for late-race cautions that jumbled up pit strategies and thwarted potential top-five finishes for Busch at Martinsville and Phoenix.
So, as Busch and the M&M's team look to put last week behind them and focus on the present, they know championship-caliber teams aren't solely judged by their good days, but how they handle adversity when they encounter bad days. While Busch and his team passed their first Chase test last weekend at Kansas, there are many more tests to come - seven of them, to be exact, culminating with the season-finale Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What's your approach heading into California this weekend, and are you looking ahead to the remaining six races as well?
"Each week, you have to put the last week behind you and look ahead, and that's exactly what we're doing. I do that if I won the previous week, or if we didn't have the kind of finish we were hoping for. As for the upcoming races, I feel really good about a lot of the tracks coming up because they are all places we ran pretty well at the first time around this season. As everyone knows, Talladega is such a wild card. But, we ran well in Charlotte in the spring - top-five, I think. We ran well at Martinsville before a late caution hurt us a bit on strategy. We had strong runs at Texas and Phoenix, but not the finish we wanted in Phoenix. So, with the exception of Talladega, where anything can happen, we have some good tracks coming up and, hopefully, we can bring home some strong finishes."
What do you remember about that night in 2005 when you captured your first Sprint Cup win at California?
"We ran in the top-five all day long, but we really didn't think we had a winning car. When we got the lead a few times throughout the race, we just pulled away and led by quite a bit. It was really cool to have a really dominant racecar. I remember having to drive the car really loose. That was the loosest I think I've ever driven a racecar that was still moving forward. It was crazy because I came over the radio and told the guys I couldn't believe how loose I have to drive the car. But it was fast."
Do you enjoy racing at California?
"I like California. It's fun. It's really wide and it's kind of flatter than Michigan, so it's a little harder to kind of get ahold of, but you can really spread out. There, in the spring, we saw guys all the way down at the white line. We saw guys all the way up at the wall. It seemed to be a really good race there. It will be a really fun racetrack. It's widened out and it's become where you can race all over it, and with the race being as long as it is, you need to take a lot of time working through traffic and being able to have a good car and all that. It's the same thing every week. California is just another one of those racetracks that seems to suit Jimmie (Johnson) really, really well. He's been in contention to win the past six races there, I think, and he's probably won four of them. That's another place we know he'll be fast. Again, we just hope for a solid day and that our efforts will put us in a good enough position. And if they don't, then we weren't good enough."
How has Auto Club Speedway changed over the last few years, going from a new track to a place that has a lot more character and racing grooves?
"That place is tough. It's really a hard racetrack to get ahold of, now, especially when it's hot and the sun is out. There are two completely different types of racing when you run the top versus the bottom groove. You can run from the top to the bottom, but when you run the bottom, you really feel like you're puttering around the racetrack. You feel like you aren't making up any time on the bottom. But when you are running the top groove, you feel like you're getting the job done. The guys who run the bottom have a little bit more patience and handle it better than the guys who are on the gas on top."