KYLE BUSCH 'By the Next Time I Get to New Hampshire --' HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 24, 2009) -- As Kyle Busch and the entire No. 18 team focus on this weekend's first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops of 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway...
'By the Next Time I Get to New Hampshire --'
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 24, 2009) -- As Kyle Busch and the entire No. 18 team focus on this weekend's first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops of 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, they'll be focusing just as heavily on their next trip to New England in September.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), currently sits ninth in the Sprint Cup standings heading into Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire. He and his JGR teammates look to begin a critical 10-race summer stretch this weekend by bringing home better results on a more consistent basis, hoping to maximize their position in the standings by the time the series makes its return trip to New Hampshire on September 20 for the first of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Despite finishes of 25th and 34th in the two New Hampshire races of 2008, there is plenty of room for optimism for the Interstate Batteries team for several reasons. After less-than-stellar results, in general, at the short, flat tracks last season, crew chief Steve Addington and the No. 18 team went to work over the offseason, creating a flat-track setup that more closely fits Busch's driving style. The new setup fit the talented 24-year-old's style quite well earlier this season at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, where Busch had a top-five run going late in the race before being penalized by NASCAR for going too fast on pit road on his final stop. Even though the penalty was deflating, Busch and Addington knew they had found the potential solution to their flat-track woes of 2008.
The Interstate Batteries team was one of four Sprint Cup teams that has already experienced a bit of track time at New Hampshire this season. In late April, slightly hampered by cold temperatures and wet conditions, they worked to help the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company determine the correct compound for all competitors to race with this weekend.
With the new setup and track time during the tire test, Busch hopes to return to the form of a three-season stretch from 2005-2007, during which he notched three top-five finishes while also capturing his first Sprint Cup win at the 1-mile track in July 2006.
To borrow and slightly twist a line made famous by Glen Campbell in the late-1960s, Busch and the No. 18 team will be hard at work this weekend, focusing on the things they'll need to do over the next 10 races so that, "By the next time they get to New Hampshire," they'll be in perfect position to chase their ultimate goal -- a Sprint Cup championship.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Is there anything you need from your team to improve as we head into the important 10-race summer stretch before the Chase?
"You can look at the points, but the only way to bring yourselves up in the points is to run better. You look at Mark (Martin) -- he was 34th at the beginning of the season, about ready to fall out of the top-35, and here he is, eighth or something just like that, in front of us now. He's had the success he's needed in order to bring himself back up through there, and Tony (Stewart) has been the same way. He runs top-10s every week. That's the way we were last year, the same things would fall our way and we had luck going our way really well. And this year has just been a struggle to get finishes knocked out every week and go on a string of top-10s. We need to get our cars better, that's the biggest thing. Our cars aren't as good as they were last year. I feel like we've been struggling in some areas. Hopefully, the meeting that we had before Sonoma will solve some of that and we can continue to get better and learn from some of the mistakes that we've made this year. Hopefully, we can get ourselves back up in there. We've got the next two races with Interstate Batteries on the car, and we really want to improve, but make Norm (Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries) and everyone at Interstate proud."
How much do your inconsistent finishes this season bother you?
"They bother me a lot because it's not how we do things and it's not how we're supposed to run. I'm hoping this bad luck -- or whatever it is that we're going through -- that we're getting it all out of the way, now, instead of when it comes down to getting into and during the Chase, when we need all the good luck we can get. Right now, we need to get our cars a bit better, and we're focused on that, too."
How comfortable are you now on flat tracks?
"It's the Cup side that I've had some issues with on the flat tracks. The Nationwide side of it, we are fine. In the past, with Hendrick, I was fine on the flat stuff, too. But, for some reason, it's just with these Gibbs cars I don't have the feel for it. I'm not sure why or what it is. We kind of came here with my own setup this time around and it seems to be paying off a little bit for us rather than trying a Denny (Hamlin) setup. Denny always runs well on the flat tracks, but his driving style is so much different than mine. I can't run the same. Denny ran really well at Richmond last year, so I'm hoping we have a car that is as good as his. We tried something different at Phoenix that seemed to fit my driving style better. I'm looking forward to New Hampshire because we ran well there and could have had a shot to win if I hadn't gotten caught speeding on pit road on the last stop. I'm looking forward to trying to change last year's results around and be better this year."
What's different about New Hampshire that you enjoy, as opposed to another flat track like Phoenix?
"New Hampshire is a fun track for me, as a driver, even though it was a tough year there last year. It's flat like Phoenix and Milwaukee, but it's a little bit tricky. In order to do well there, you need a car that works on all the different kinds of asphalt the tracks seem to be putting down. You need a car that has a lot of side bite in the rear and front grip to turn easier. At New Hampshire, it seems like I've always been loose into the corner and tight in the center, which is hard to fix, sometimes. I think the team that can fix that the best will have the best car."