Busch and his entire JGR Toyota Camry team will be rolling up their collective sleeves and getting to work this Labor Day weekend
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 27, 2013) – Kyle Busch returns this weekend to the place where it all began – Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After leading a race-high 173 laps, the Las Vegas native captured his first win for Mars’ SNICKERS brand, and also the first win in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Sprint Cup competition and its first year with JGR, as was Busch.
The win also marked the end to a 147-race drought for JGR’s No. 18 team, as well as Busch’s first of 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins for JGR. Since then, Busch’s has also totaled 99 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series driving Toyota vehicles in Sprint Cup (23), Nationwide (49), and Camping World Truck (27). Add 21 overall wins prior to joining JGR at the beginning of 2008, and Busch is at 120 combined Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series wins and counting.
With that in mind, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for JGR and his entire team will be rolling up their collective sleeves and getting to work this Labor Day weekend in hopes of reaching Busch’s 100-win milestone for Toyota. They’ll hope to rekindle their 2008 magic at Atlanta as the series returns for Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race.
Busch heads into Atlanta fifth in the standings and, with his three Sprint Cup wins, he’s all but assured a spot in the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with two races remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. So, with a Chase berth imminent, Busch and his M&M’s team will look to make the necessary gambles to get another win, which would add another three bonus points at the start of NASCAR’s playoffs.
With the Chase just three weekends away, Busch and Company will undoubtedly be feeling just a bit nostalgic, pondering their 2008 weekend at Atlanta as they look to reach yet another milestone, at the place where it all began.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What kind of race are you expecting at Atlanta this year?
“I don’t think you’re going to see a race any different than what we’ve seen down in Atlanta the last few years. The racetrack has aged really nicely, where it’s probably aged too much, but you can’t repave Atlanta – that would just be stupid. It’s a place where you can run the bottom all the way from the white line all the way to the wall and anywhere in-between. You have to have a good car there, but it’s a neat racetrack with the way you can race around and move around and not get too comfortable running one lane. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys have brought good cars to the intermediate tracks this year and I’m hoping they give us another good car and we can go for the win with our M&M’s Camry.”
Is your preparation different for a night race?
“For me, yeah, you prepare a little bit differently. It’s a night race, so it’s not so hot. You don’t have to do as much as you might for a day race with cooling and everything inside the car, but it still will be a warm one, for sure. For me, it’s just about the whole week ahead of time. You’ve got to stay hydrated and make sure you keep yourself from cramping up or something like that. With the hot weekends we get out here, that could certainly be a challenging aspect. I’ve done it before and I’ll probably still do it again.”
What are your memories of racing in Atlanta?
“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I have not won a Nationwide race there. I finished second three or four times, so it’s been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I’ve either been really good or mediocre or really bad. There have been times where I’ve been really good throughout the event. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to keep the grip in my car for the long haul, as long you need throughout a run. I’m really fast for the first five, eight laps. But, after that, I seem to slip more than anyone else.”
What does it take to be successful at Atlanta?
“It takes a lot of things. You have to have a lot of grip, you have to have a lot of downforce, you have to have tire management, a great engine, and fuel mileage, too. There are a lot of circumstances it can come down to at the end and what it will boil down to.”
What challenges does the day-to-night format present at Atlanta in the Sprint Cup race?
“Certainly, we practice all during the day, so the daytime practice is good for the beginning of the race. But as the racetrack picks up speed and gets faster throughout the night, of course, the balance can change a little bit. With the speed getting faster, certainly the loads change a little bit for you, so you have to be conscious of that. The crew chiefs are good at what they do and that’s why they get paid the big bucks – to try to figure out what best suits the cars for nighttime, because that’s when the race ends. Certainly, you want to be good at night.”
What did you think of the speed at Atlanta the first time you raced there?
“My first time there was 2003 in a Nationwide Series car and it was definitely fast. It’s all relative. You run the same speed around everybody and it really doesn’t feel that fast, so it feels like you do anywhere else, whether you’re at Las Vegas or Chicago or Kansas or any of those places.”
Joe Gibbs Racing