Martinsville II: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH Delivering the Mail HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 14, 2008) -- "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" reads the inscription on the General Post Office...

Delivering the Mail

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 14, 2008) -- "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" reads the inscription on the General Post Office at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street in New York City.

For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), neither his fellow competitors nor three unique NASCAR series nor race tracks of all shapes and sizes nor different crew chiefs has kept him from accomplishing what he has done an astounding 20 times this year -- win and win big.

Consider the mind-boggling list of tracks that Busch has won at in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck competition in 2008. A victory chart that consists of: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (Craftsman Truck - spring), Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., (Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck), Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Nationwide), Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., (Nationwide), Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez in Mexico City (Nationwide), Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (Sprint Cup), Darlington, (S.C.) Raceway (Sprint Cup), Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., (Nationwide - spring), Dover (Del.) International (Sprint Cup - spring), Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (Sprint Cup), Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (Sprint Cup), Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., (Sprint Cup and Nationwide), O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis (Nationwide), Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (Sprint Cup), Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (Nationwide - fall), Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Nationwide - fall), and finally, Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., (Nationwide - fall).

That's eight victories in Sprint Cup, nine in the Nationwide Series, and three in Craftsman Truck Series.

By capturing the Nationwide Series win at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) in Concord, N.C., last weekend, Busch notched his aforementioned 20th overall victory across NASCAR's top-three series in 2008. The win added to the record he set with his Nationwide Series win at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis in late July, when he broke a tie with Kevin Harvick (14 total wins in 2006) for the most victories overall in a season since the addition of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1995.

So, as the Sprint Cup Series heads to the 32nd race of the season at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Sunday's TUMS QuikPak 500, to say that the talented 23-year-old has had a phenomenal year would be a huge understatement. Adding Saturday's Craftsman Truck race, Busch will make his 71st and 72nd starts of the season among NASCAR's top three series with a staggering winning percentage of 28.57% leading into the weekend.

As Busch has jumped from car to car, team to team, the only constant has been the skills of the Las Vegas native at the controls. While he has had the same crew chief for his 31 Sprint Cup starts (Steve Addington) and 13 Craftsman Truck Series starts (Richie Wauters), Busch has worked with eight different crew chiefs for his 27 Nationwide Series starts (Dave Rogers, Jason Ratcliff, Trent Owens, Todd Lohse, Doug Hewitt, Mike Sibley, and Joel Weidmann).

On the Sprint Cup side, despite a tough start to this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup, Busch finally has momentum back on his side after notching a fourth-place finish last Saturday night at LMS, his first top-five in five Chase races.

So, as Busch and his M&M's team head to Martinsville this weekend, they'll have the goal in mind of adding to an already spectacular season by delivering the mail in yet another ZIP code.

KYLE BUSCH: Driver, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

Despite a tough start to the Chase, have you been able to put in perspective that you've been to victory lane 20 times this season?

"It's any driver's dream to be able to win like we have this year. We just didn't know how things would go this year with a new team at Joe Gibbs Racing, M&M's, Toyota, everyone, and it certainly exceeded my expectations. To win 20 races is crazy to think about, but there's still plenty of racing left to go and I would love to get to 25, total, and a few more wins with the M&M's guys before the year is over. That will be the goal, anyway."

How do you approach Martinsville since track position is so important there?

"It's just a short race track and you've got to try to have a good car. But it's hard to have a good car there with the field as tight as it is. Qualifying up front seems to help out a little bit. We know who the guys are who are going to be tough there. Really, there's nothing that you can change about that race track to stay out of trouble or what-not. Basically, you can be leading the race and have a wreck in front of you while you are trying to lap some guys."

Are there tracks where qualifying matters more than others?

"At the short tracks, you really like to qualify up front, especially at Martinsville. It's hard to pass there. Loudon, Phoenix -- Phoenix isn't so bad -- are places where it's hard to pass, and sometimes pit strategy helps. Sometimes you can't really do much to get yourself positioned up front and you would rather qualify up front for those."

How have you been able to adapt so easily to different crew chiefs and race cars throughout the season?

"I think if you have a good car and you're successful, it makes it easier no matter what crew chief I'm working with. Every team that I've been with this season, the guys have believed in me and I believe in what they can do. It sure makes it easier to have that understanding even before you jump behind the wheel. I was even surprised at how quickly I got used to how everything works at JGR and how well Steve (Addington, crew chief) and I communicate. The biggest thing is that I know every time I jump behind the wheel of any car here at JGR, I know I have a chance to win. That's all a driver can really ask for."

What are your best hopes for the Sprint Cup championship race heading into Martinsville?

"We're just trying to go as high as we can go. If there's a shot to get to fifth or a shot to get to third, that's all fine. We just try to do every week what we've done all year long and finish up front."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Trent Owens , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing