KYLE BUSCH Making History HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 20, 2010) - Anyone who has watched the racing career of Kyle Busch knows he enjoys putting his name in the record books. Over the course of his relatively short NASCAR career, the driver of ...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 20, 2010) - Anyone who has watched the racing career of Kyle Busch knows he enjoys putting his name in the record books.
Over the course of his relatively short NASCAR career, the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), who heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400, seems to have taken full advantage of his opportunities to make history in each of NASCAR's top three series.
It started when Busch was just 16 years old and became the youngest driver to start a Camping World Truck Series event as he took the green flag at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. The date was Aug. 3, 2001.
In 2005, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Busch was just 20 years and 125 days old when he became the youngest Sprint Cup winner ever - a record he held until June 2009 when his JGR teammate Joey Logano won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon at 19 years and 35 days old.
Logano might have broken Busch's record for youngest Sprint Cup winner, but Busch still is the youngest driver to win a Sprint Cup pole - a feat he accomplished in February 2005, also at Fontana, in just his eighth career Sprint Cup start.
Fast-forward to last month at New Hampshire, where Busch won his 36th career Nationwide Series race and upped his career laps led tally to 8,117, a new all-time high. The previous record-holder, with 8,082 laps led, was Mark Martin, who also happens to own the career high for Nationwide Series wins with 48 - a mark Busch put himself within 11 of when he won his 37th two weekends ago at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
In total, Busch has 73 victories in NASCAR's top three divisions (Sprint Cup - 18; Nationwide - 37; Camping World Truck - 18), putting him just 10 behind another legendary figure in the sport, Cale Yarborough, whose 83 victories all came in Sprint Cup competition.
What might be the next major accomplishment on Busch's list? Perhaps achieving the highly coveted personal milestone of scoring the victory this weekend at auto racing's most historic venue for the very first time?
Busch would like nothing more than to cross off that win at one race he and his fellow competitors consider part of the Sprint Cup's "big three" - the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
After all, hoisting the Harley J. Earl Trophy and kissing the Yard of Bricks come Sunday afternoon would shoot straight to the top of Busch's growing list of accomplishments, for certain. And the rest is history.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are you overall thoughts heading into the Brickyard 400 this weekend, especially considering you participated in a Goodyear tire test at the Speedway in April?
"I felt like our test was pretty good there a couple of months ago. Hopefully, we can go back there with some speed and be fast and have a good run. You definitely have to qualify up front at Indy - that's the biggest thing. And having a good qualifying draw is a big part of that - being able to go out early in the morning. After that, it's hard to pass and get through traffic, so we're hoping we can get our M&M's Camry up front and just stay there all day and hope we have a shot to be there at the end."
Where does Indy rank on the list of prestigious wins in this series?
"It's number two. It's right there. Daytona is one, Indy is two. They're both pretty close. Daytona probably pays a little bit more because NASCAR has to do that. Indy is an important racetrack for a lot of people. The history of that place, it's all been Indy cars. But it's still one of the first big superspeedways in America dating back to the early 1900s. There's a lot there that everyone always wants to win."
Did you watch the Indy 500 growing up?
"I never really paid much attention to Indy car stuff growing up. I always kind of watched it to see the cars go around there. And I'd always watch a little bit the month of May to see what kind of speeds they were turning, and what the new rules were when they came out with new rules to slow the cars down, and to see the guys get them going faster again. It was always fun to watch that. Then you get to the race and it wasn't a whole lot for me to watch or learn."
Do you remember when you first heard the words Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Brickyard 400?
"Probably the first time I knew of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or the Indy 500, was back in the '80s - probably '89, maybe even 1990. Of course, the first time I knew of the Brickyard 400 was '94, being a big Jeff Gordon fan and following him growing up in Las Vegas. When he came into the sport a few years earlier and won the Coca-Cola 600, and then carried that into the Brickyard 400, and then won that race right off the bat, that was quite an accomplishment, for sure."
Is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a difficult track to master? Do you personally like driving there?
"It's a very difficult track to master. I'm not even sure that I've done it. Just racing the races I've run there, I've finished well a couple of times. I think I've had a seventh and a 10th and a fourth. To me, it has been one of those racetracks that is very unforgiving. It's narrow, tight. Not a lot of passing goes on there. It's tough to get your car set up perfectly there, so you have to do what you can to make it the best you can. All four corners being so different, remembering exactly how to drive all four of them, and just trying to be able to be able to qualify up front and to race up front is so important there."
What is it about Indianapolis Motor Speedway that makes it unique compared to other tracks that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits?
"It's very tight down the straightaways. You roll through (turn) one and (turn) two, and there are people on the inside, there are people on the outside, there are people in the grass, just sitting along the back straightaway on the inside. You've got the golf course there, and fans sitting on the hills underneath the trees. You start back up into turn three, with the grandstands going around (turn) three and (turn) four, and then down the frontstretch and, again, there are two tunnels. There's a tunnel at the (turns) one and two side, and on the (turns) three and four side. There's a center road that runs all the way through, and then coming down the frontstretch again, looking on both sides of you, you've got the pit road, which is really narrow and really tight, and the grandstands on the inside and the outside, so you're going down a 'V' of just people - a sea of people. Coming to the Pagoda and the media center, the way it is, and of course the scoring pylon being as tall as it is, you come down there and, if you're leading the race, sometimes you can't see that high, so you're kind of wondering who is second and third, or who is behind you. It stinks when you're running in the back because you can see yourself right there."
Joe Gibbs Racing has won at The Brickyard three times - twice with Tony Stewart, once with Bobby Labonte. What are your thoughts on Coach Gibbs' history at Indianapolis and what it would mean to add a Brickyard 400 trophy to your trophy case?
"Coach, being as successful as he has been there with Tony, and him being a big name from Indiana, wanting to win there, being a Hoosier, himself, that's cool. I'm sure it was big for those guys. Bobby (Labonte) winning in the year that he won the championship for Joe Gibbs Racing at that racetrack was cool, with Jimmy Makar and all those guys. I'm just wishing one day I can put my name on that list by getting a win at that track and trying to run up front. You always want to win the big races. You want to win the Brickyard 400, the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 - some of those big races - before your career is over."