Martinsville: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH A Win Would Be So 'Satisfying' at Martinsville HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 23, 2010) - Anyone who has ever watched Kyle Busch race knows how hungry he is for a victory every time he competes. But Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers...

A Win Would Be So 'Satisfying' at Martinsville

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 23, 2010) - Anyone who has ever watched Kyle Busch race knows how hungry he is for a victory every time he competes.

But Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), would certainly take some extra satisfaction if he were to end up in victory lane for the first time at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the site of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500.

Why would a win at Martinsville be extra satisfying for the talented 24-year-old? Look no further than his recent struggles at the .533-mile paperclip-shaped oval.

While he's posted his career-best finish of fourth at Martinsville on three different occasions - the most recent coming in his last visit last October - he has also finished 24th or worse in three of the last four Sprint Cup starts at the flat short track.

Of the 22 venues that will host Sprint Cup events in 2010, Busch has won at least one race in one of NASCAR's top three divisions - Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck - at 19 of those venues. There are only three current Sprint Cup venues - Martinsville, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway - where Busch has not scored a victory in any of NASCAR's top three series.

Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers are hoping to keep up the momentum from their surprising come-from-behind-finish in last weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where the Las Vegas native overcame a cut right-front tire and scrape with the SAFER Barrier outside turns one and two on lap 274 of the 500-lap race. Making the rally even more impressive was the team's discovery after the race that the contact with the SAFER Barrier caused the right-front shock to break.

Instead of giving up, Busch and his No. 18 team dug deep and found a way to pull out a ninth-place finish on a day that appeared to be headed for disaster near the race's mid-point. The rally helped vault the Snickers team from 15th to 10th in the Sprint Cup standings heading into this weekend's sixth race of the season. Busch and the Snickers team know that, in order to be eligible for the 12-team, 10-race Chase for the Championship after the 26th race of the season, he'll need to somehow salvage a good finish out of such bad days, and go after the wins at the races where he has a car strong enough to compete for the victory.

So just like Snickers satisfies hunger, Busch is hoping the Snickers colors will also satisfy his desire to conquer one of the few venues where victory has eluded him thus far during his short but successful career.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

You've had several top-five finishes at Martinsville in the past. The last seven races, it's been Denny Hamlin or Jimmie Johnson who have won. What do you see as the gap between yourself and those two? Is it a matter of luck that's kept you away from winning those races, and allowed those guys to dominate those races?

"No, they've had the dominating cars and they've been the dominating drivers. I'm not going to say I can get in Denny's car. I've been in equipment that's pretty close. I've been in equipment that's been pretty close to Jimmie's, too. I think I ran fourth to him that time. I think my best finish there was fourth, three times. It's a difficult racetrack. It's not easy for everyone. I mean, Jeff Gordon went through a spell of being one of the best guys there. Dale Earnhardt was one of those guys. Richard Petty, back before that. You know, I feel like I've gotten better there, but still I've never really been one of the drivers who's been the one to worry about going into Martinsville. I think just being able to get through there with a good, solid top-10 - maybe a top-five finish - would be good for us and our team. Where we're at right now, we want to get through Martinsville, have a good, strong run with our Snickers Toyota, and then get on to Texas, where we know we can run well."

Spoilers will be back on the Sprint Cup cars for Martinsville. Do you feel you are ready for it, or will you even see much change for the first race other than appearance?

"You know, I feel like it's a change - something that's to the betterment of the sport to try to make these cars a little bit better. I'm looking forward to it. I definitely think that NASCAR wouldn't have done it if they didn't think it was for the better. We'll see how it goes. Being that the first race will be at Martinsville with the new spoiler, it shouldn't make that big of a deal because there's not really a lot of aerodynamics there. Once we get to places like Texas, Talladega, some other racetracks that are really, really fast, like the All-Star Race at Charlotte, the 600 there, too, it should bring out hopefully what the drivers were looking for. That's a better ability to run side-by-side and produce some better racing."

Are you still trying to figure out Martinsville, and are you comfortable racing there, now?

"If I had Jeff Gordon's or Jimmie Johnson's success there, then I would be comfortable going there. I've had some decent runs there, where I've felt like we've had a car to win and had a shot to win. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the track position toward the end of the race. Jeff (Gordon) is so good there and Jimmie (Johnson) is so good there. They are probably the two most difficult guys to pass there because they know the place. They know how to get off the corner and how to roll the middle of the corner there. Everything is timing, and their stuff just works, whatever it is."

What is it that makes Martinsville so different when it looks so similar to other short tracks?

"Every track is different. There aren't two racetracks out there that are the same. Everybody says that Atlanta, Texas, Charlotte - those places - are the same because they look the same from the sky. But they are so, so different. They say Chicago is the same as Kansas and (Las) Vegas, and those places are so different. California and Michigan, they are so different. I would say that probably the closest racetrack that I grew up racing on was San Bernardino, Calif. - it was Orange Show Speedway. That's closest to what Martinsville is. I only ran Legends cars there, so it's not a true telling. It was only a quarter-mile big. It's just a tough place because you're so hard on brakes, but your minimum speed there - everybody's is - the same, pretty much. Except, there are a couple of guys who will get a half-mile-an-hour faster through the center of the corner, and that is the difference between the pole speed and being dead-last. You're looking to find things that will make your car just that much faster there. You want to drive into the corner one foot deeper than that other guy. You want to step on the gas one foot sooner than that other guy, and you want to roll a half-mile-an-hour better than that other guy. That's why it's so finicky and so hard there because, everybody runs so tight, that any little thing you can find, it can help a lot."

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

"It's just a short racetrack 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 racetrack to stay out of trouble. Basically, you can be leading the race and have a wreck in front of you while you are trying to lap some guys and that could be it."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch