KYLE BUSCH Better To Be Lucky AND Good at Talladega HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2010) - The word "luck" is often thrown around by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers on a week-to-week basis as a way to explain how a certain race turns...
Better To Be Lucky AND Good at Talladega
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2010) - The word "luck" is often thrown around by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers on a week-to-week basis as a way to explain how a certain race turns out.
While top competitors also believe that you make your own luck by preparation at almost every racetrack NASCAR's top series competes at, there's one particular racetrack where a team truly needs to be lucky and good.
That track, of course, is the massive Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, site of Sunday's Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup race.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Pedigree® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), knows all too well about luck after 10 career starts at the 2.66-mile tri-oval. In fact, prior to 2008, if the talented 24-year-old didn't have bad luck at Talladega, he wouldn't have had any luck at all.
He conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. But, with only three other top-15 finishes and three Talladega outings ending in an accident for Busch, he knows all too well there's no such thing as a sure thing in restrictor-plate racing.
Busch knows the winner of Sunday's 499-mile race will need to have a strong car and be lucky in order to survive the seemingly inevitable multi-car accident if he is to find to victory at NASCAR's longest track.
Since joining JGR in 2008, the Las Vegas native has shown he's capable of running up front with the great equipment the Pedigree team provides week in and week out. Of his 89 Sprint Cup laps led at Talladega, 75 have come in his four starts since joining JGR. While Busch seemingly has had one of the cars to beat each time the circuit heads back to Alabama, he also has, more often than not, found himself involved in an accident before the day is done.
The good news for Busch is that he and the Pedigree team are quickly gaining momentum, coming off an impressive third-place showing Monday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. While Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers searched for ways to tighten up a loose racecar, they both showed incredible patience. Then, a swift, two-tire stop called by Rogers on the last pit stop of the day enabled Busch to gain the track position necessary to turn a top-15 finish into a top-three. Even better news coming off the first top-five of the season for the No. 18 team: it gained six spots and now sits in the sixth-position in the Sprint Cup standings.
Busch and Rogers will hope to ride that momentum into Sunday's Aaron's 499. And while Busch knows he has great equipment underneath him via the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota provided to him by JGR, and with driver-crew chief communication improving each weekend, he also knows he will need a little bit of luck to survive Talladega and have a chance at repeating his lone triumph from 2008.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What is the key to pulling off a victory at Talladega?
"The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble. At Talladega, you pretty much stay around the bottom, since there is a lot of grip there, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single-file at the bottom, sometimes it's hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good cars to get something going. It can be frustrating, at times, because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that's when it starts to get crazy."
Do you believe that Joe Gibbs Racing's cars will be good again at Talladega?
"I think our Toyotas are pretty good when we get to the restrictor-plate tracks, so Talladega is going to be fine with our Pedigree Toyota. I think we'll have a good run there. Everybody is typically fast at Talladega, so it will be a little bit different. I'm looking forward to it. I feel like myself and Denny (Hamlin, teammate) are good drafting partners. And Joey (Logano, teammate), he'll be fine, too. He'll (Logano) be able to get up there and we'll run all together. I wasn't at the spoiler test there a while back, but we have some pretty good input from the team and we'll see how that changes the racing there."
What does it mean to you that JGR won both races at Texas, and that you and Denny both had strong runs in the Cup race?
"I wish we were two spots better (in the Sprint Cup race) - so it could have been (two for) the (same) driver. The driver's done it before. I won two last year - Truck and Nationwide. I wish I could get a Cup and a Nationwide. We're working on it. We're getting a lot closer with the Cup car. Dave Rogers (crew chief) and those guys did a good job at Texas. We probably had a 10th- to 13th-place car there and turned it into a third. Dave and the guys never gave up. The crew on pit road was awesome, and Dave and I are communicating really well. We needed to work on it a little bit longer and could never get it. I'm really proud, overall, at how the Texas weekend went and, hopefully, this will carry on into Talladega."
During the offseason, NASCAR relaxed some rules on aggressive driving and bump drafting at the restrictor-plate tracks. Will that change the race on Sunday at Talladega at all?
"I'm not sure. We'll see how it plays out. Us drivers, we race as hard as we can every lap, as it is. We try to keep it clean between each other because we know we don't want to have those off-track battles going back-and-forth between people. It's just trying to get out there and race and make everything happen. We want to try to win races for our sponsors and for our manufacturer and everybody who supports our racing."
One rule NASCAR left in place at Daytona was the "yellow-line" rule at restrictor-plate tracks. Do you agree with leaving that the way it was?
"NASCAR listened to everyone and I'm glad they left that particular part alone. There have been instances in the past couple of years where I could've made moves below the yellow line getting into turn three or turn one on the last lap at Daytona and Talladega and I could've wrecked people. They're going to hold the bottom, but I could've made a move that could've possibly wrecked somebody. I think the rule is good where it's at because it keeps everybody on the banking on the racetrack when you get into the turns. It's just another can of worms we're going to open up. Next thing you know, we'll be racing in the grass."