Phoenix: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH Home Away from Home in Phoenix HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 6, 2010) - There's just no place like home for Las Vegas native Kyle Busch. But, there is always a close second. While Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe...

Home Away from Home in Phoenix

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 6, 2010) - There's just no place like home for Las Vegas native Kyle Busch. But, there is always a close second.

While Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), relishes each chance to visit his desert hometown, there's yet another desert destination that ranks as next-best for the talented 24-year-old.

Where might that be? Of course, it's Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., site of Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 600k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

While he grew up a little less than 300 miles to the north and west of Phoenix, Busch has quickly made the Valley of the Sun a home away from home. Busch has 10 Sprint Cup starts at the mile oval in the desert and has six top-10 finishes, including four in a row from the spring of 2007 through the fall of 2008. He won the pole for the spring 2006 event and scored his second-ever Sprint Cup victory on Nov. 13, 2005, in the Checker Auto Parts 500k in his second start at the "Diamond in the Desert."

His overall resume at Phoenix isn't too shabby either, considering he has won three NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Phoenix, has seven top-10 finishes in nine Nationwide Series starts, and has won the pole three times. He also scored a Camping World Truck Series victory in November 2007, and in his four Truck Series starts has never qualified worse than 16th or finished worse than 11th.

In addition to feeling at home in Phoenix, Busch's M&M's Camry will sport a call-out to M&M's Character Vote contest, in which fans can log onto and vote for their favorite M&M's color. The top vote-getter will be featured on Busch's M&M's Toyota for the Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup race in July at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and fans will also have a chance to win a $50,000 cash prize in the contest that is slated to run until July 15. For his part, Busch is hoping his favorite M&M's character - "Red" - gets to come along for the ride at historic Indianapolis this summer, but it will be up to the fans on who gets voted as the favorite M&M's character.

So, as the M&M's driver treks west this weekend, he's hoping to again leave his competitors in a cloud of dust and bring home his second Sprint Cup win at a place that's not his hometown, but sure feels very much like home.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

While you've had a lot of success at Phoenix throughout your career, you've been working to get better on flat tracks in the Sprint Cup car. What are your expectations for this weekend?

"We were okay in both races at Phoenix last year, but just didn't quite have a winning car. That's something we worked hard on with the 18 team and we had the best car I've ever had at JGR in Martinsville, but just didn't have the result we wanted. But I know the guys are focused on making those tracks better. Hopefully, we're heading in the right direction on the flat-track stuff as far as adapting to my driving style."

In addition to two Nationwide Series wins at Phoenix, you also won in your second Sprint Cup start at the one-mile oval. What does it take to be successful at Phoenix?

"Phoenix is a pretty neat place. For some reason, I've always run well there. I don't know if it's that I'm comfortable being back close to home on the West Coast, or what. I always have a little more fan support out there as well. As for the track itself, you have two distinctly different corners at Phoenix. Turns one and two are different than three and four, and there's also a kink in the backstretch. Being able to run well there depends on how well you can turn in the center of turns one and two, and yet still have a good drive up off the back straightaway because it's so long and fast. Then, getting into turn three, you really need to rotate. Just past the center of turns three and four, you have a little bit of a kink on the apron, where you need to be able to turn and get a good drive off the corner. It's really dependent on how I like the car set up so I'm able to make a good lap time. There are plenty of tricks to that place that you need to know to be successful."

You have a partial paint scheme for M&M's Character Vote on your car this weekend. Do you have a favorite M&M's character?

"I actually get asked this quite often. I always say 'Red' is my favorite, since he's kind of like me. Red has a hard exterior on the outside, but he's soft on the inside. I think everyone knows how competitive I can be, but off the track I'm probably much more laid back and fun, as much as anyone. We haven't had the luck we've hoped for this year, so I'll take just about anything to get it back on track, including a special paint scheme this weekend."

Has it been tough for you to see the success your former crew chief, Steve Addington has had with your brother, Kurt, this season?

"No, it's not tough at all. I'm happy for him. I know he was a good crew chief, too. But Dave (Rogers, crew chief) has done a really good job at pushing everybody harder and keeping everybody on the same page and making sure we try to elevate to the next level. Our on-track performance maybe hasn't been quite as good as we would have liked, but I feel like the team's a lot closer together. I think the team's gelling, but it's going to take a little time. I look at Brian Pattie's (No. 42 crew chief) situation, mostly. He came in as a really good Nationwide crew chief and was good, decent out of the box, but it really took him about a year to learn this car. Once he learned this car, you look at Juan (Pablo Montoya) and he's on top of the sheets every week. I hope it doesn't take that long with Dave. I don't feel like we have that time. Dave's a smart enough crew chief that we'll get going pretty well and, hopefully, we'll be a force to be reckoned with when it comes down to race number 20. We'll be solidly in the top-12 and looking to make the Chase come Richmond time. Then, we'll really peak in the final 10 (races)."

You have opportunities to get back to the West Coast during the first part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Do you enjoy traveling there, and do you feel more comfortable going to that part of the country, since that's where you grew up?

"Everybody hates the time change. I use that to my advantage since I think I'm usually on West Coast time anyway. I still haven't gotten East Coast time down, yet. It's fun for me. It's a cool atmosphere and the weather is great without the humidity. If it's hot out, it's nice and warm, so the heat doesn't bother me as much as it does in other places. And if it's cold, it's a crisp cold. It's still home and I love being out west, and I really feel at home any time we race out there."

-source: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Busch