KYLE BUSCH NOTHING TO LOSE HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 29, 2009) -- Anybody who knows Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), knows there is nothing he loves more than winning ...
NOTHING TO LOSE
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 29, 2009) -- Anybody who knows Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), knows there is nothing he loves more than winning races.
Out of the Chase for the Championship for the first time since his rookie year in 2005, points are disposable at the moment for Busch and Co., but wins still mean plenty to him and primary backer M&M's.
So, with nothing to lose as the series heads to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, site of Sunday's Price Chopper 400, Busch and the No. 18 team have just one thing on their minds -- winning.
For proof that a "Victory Lane or Bust" strategy is a successful one at Kansas, Busch and the M&M's need only look back to 2006 and the efforts of former JGR teammate Tony Stewart.
That year, Stewart, crew chief Greg Zipadelli and the No. 20 team missed the Chase for the first time in their respective Sprint Cup careers. But heading into the third Chase race at Kansas, a facility where races often are decided by fuel mileage, Stewart and Zipadelli stretched their fuel tank for the last 71 laps of the 267-lap race and brought home the victory.
The win for Stewart and the No. 20 team brought along two more victories during the final 10 races and led to important momentum-building for the following season.
So if Sunday's Price Chopper 400 comes down to a gamble in order to make it to victory lane, Busch and crew chief Steve Addington will undoubtedly be rolling the dice much like Stewart and Zipadelli did in 2006. After all, the only thing that matters at this point is finishing the season with a few more wins and a jump-start on a championship run in 2010.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How much pressure do you put on yourself each week to win races, no matter what the points situation might be?
"Sometimes I joke around with other team guys who I've worked with in the past, and they're like, 'Man why are you so down on yourself?' I'm supposed to win races. That's what I'm here to do. I'm supposed to be the guy who's the most difficult to beat out there. But you know, essentially you've got to have a good handle on racecars, too. You know the cars are a big part of the game. You have to have good leadership skills within yourself, good leadership skills within your crew chief and good racecars and everything. For me, I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and be the best. I want to be the guy who everyone says, 'We've got to beat Kyle Busch,' and 'That's the guy we've got to beat week in, and week out, whatever series it is.' I had that this year, but we haven't quite gotten it done in the Cup Series as much as we have been able to in the Nationwide Series. And we're trying to turn that around and look forward to next year and try to get some wins for M&M's before the season is over, too."
Are there any challenges to having only one Sprint Cup race a year at Kansas Speedway?
"We go to Indy once a year, we go to Chicago once a year, a lot of different racetracks once a year. It's a little bit different of a challenge because you've got to remember that far back. It's the same for everybody though, so you just kind of go out there and try to get going as quickly as you can. I've really never had much luck at Kansas in the Cup car, it seems like, so I'm hoping we can turn that around this weekend. I've run well there at times, but seem to be snake-bitten a bit with mechanical issues or getting caught up in an accident. We're hoping we can turn that around this weekend and add a good Cup finish for M&M's and all the guys there."
You won last year at Chicagoland Speedway, a sister track to Kansas Speedway. Does that give you confidence this weekend?
"It does a little bit, but we didn't run as well at Chicago this year -- or at least didn't get a chance to see with the spring rubbers flying out of the right rear. The difference is that Kansas is a little bit narrower than Chicago. We're bringing a new car this weekend and working on some stuff for next year, so I know we're hoping to have a good result. The only thing that can help fix the disappointment of this season will be to get some more wins."
The Kansas race has been won on fuel mileage the last two years. What have you learned about saving fuel? Is it a matter of saving it, or just being in a position where you can gamble at the end of the race?
"It's probably just a matter of either being in a position to gamble more times than not, and we certainly are in that position the rest of the season. When you're trying to conserve fuel, it is pretty much all on luck. You try to roll out of the gas early and be smooth getting back to it. You will probably save a drop here or there, but nothing that is going to make a big difference. I think four times in my career I've tried, but I didn't make it on three of them. It depends on the scenario. If you're short by three laps with 60 laps to go and you go green the rest of the way, if you start saving, you will go for it. But if you're short five laps, if there is no other way but to stop, you might as well come in early and then go for it."