KYLE BUSCH POCONO -- WEREN'T WE JUST HERE? HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 29, 2009) -- If it seems as if we've just seen the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series run a 500-mile race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, site of Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, it...
POCONO -- WEREN'T WE JUST HERE?
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 29, 2009) -- If it seems as if we've just seen the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series run a 500-mile race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, site of Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500, it isn't just a figment of your imagination.
That's because the Sprint Cup Series contested the season's first event in the mountains of Pennsylvania just five weeks ago. While this might be a welcome site for some drivers, such as Tony Stewart, winner of the June event, there are others who might not to be quite as excited.
You can count Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), as one who might not be as thrilled to see the 2.5-mile triangle for the second time in just over a two-month span following his disappointing 22nd-place result in June.
But since that last trip to Pocono, one of the things Busch, crew chief Steve Addington, and the entire M&M's team have been working on is making things better for this next trip Pocono.
Things appeared to be headed in the right direction at one point during last weekend's event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which can be a good indicator of how things will go at Pocono. While Busch was forced to take a disappointing 38th-place finish because of a blown right-front tire that caused enough damage to send his No. 18 Toyota to the garage for repairs, the encouraging news is that Busch was running a solid seventh at the time of the accident.
They'll look to build on that Indianapolis setup, hopefully without the bad luck, as they embark on their second trip to Pocono this weekend.
Even though the M&M's team now sits 14th in the Sprint Cup standings, that doesn't mean they aren't determined to get back on track and use the next six races to earn a spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Both races at Pocono last year were tough for you and your team. What is your outlook this weekend?
"Hopefully, we can get some much better results than last year and the first race there this year. We ran a lot better there the last two races but ran out of gas there at the end last August and didn't get great fuel mileage there in June and it ruined our day a bit. We've brought a different setup this year to the flat tracks, since we struggled on them last year, and it's seemed to help, so far. But we haven't necessarily gotten the finishes considering how we've run overall. We'll see about this weekend. We just haven't had any luck, so I'm hoping we can get that back and get some good finishes over the next several weeks. We're just not getting the finishes to show for it lately."
Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What's the most difficult part of the track for you?
"The hardest part of the track for me is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn't go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you're 8-10 mph slower than the guy on your outside and they're just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway."
Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?
"Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one we just can't get the cars to turn down there because there's so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a 'buck-40' (140). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you've got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it's tight."
Sunday at Indianapolis was another tough day for you and the team. How long do your bad days stick with you?
"When you have a bad race, you think about it the whole way home. You decipher everything in your mind. 'What could I have done better? What could I have told Steve (Addington, crew chief) to make things better? Maybe the team fell apart, maybe the team gave up -- was that because of me? What was wrong with the car? Why were the cars wrong?' I think all the way back to practice, the thing might have been good here, but why was it so good in practice and then at the start of the race we were so bad? It's so hard to decipher everything, but when you do that all through your mind, and you talk it over with Jeff (Dickerson, spotter) and with Steve (Addington, crew chief) and those guys, then we try to figure out a game plan to where it went wrong, why it went wrong and, ultimately, about Tuesday, we try to concentrate on the next week and what's coming up."
Why do you need to change your reactions to bad races?
"For me, we need to try something different. Like I said, the bad races aren't just bad, they're horrible. Whether that's my fault or not, you need a common denominator. There's no common denominator as to why a bad day goes bad and gets worse. If it was me who kept my head in the game and stayed focused, which I feel like I've done, but maybe I give up a little bit and don't tell my team exactly what we need on fixing the car."