KYLE BUSCH There's a First Time for Everything HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 28, 2008) -- The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season has been full of firsts for Kyle Busch. In his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and manufacturer ...
There's a First Time for Everything
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 28, 2008) -- The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season has been full of firsts for Kyle Busch.
In his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and manufacturer Toyota, the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota has put together quite a breakout season. His series-high eight Sprint Cup wins have all come at venues where he had never won a race before in NASCAR's top series, some of which were places he struggled at in previous years.
Now, the 23-year old has his sights set on another track --Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth -- that has given him fits throughout his relatively short career as he hopes to don the traditional cowboy hat and six-shooters in victory lane following Sunday's Dickies 500.
The Las Vegas native has added impressive wins at several venues to his growing resume, which included his first road course win in June at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., followed by another road course win at Watkins Glen (N.Y) International in August. Busch also tallied his first Sprint Cup wins at the tricky 1.33-mile Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May; the high-banked, 1-mile oval at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in June; the 1.5-mile ovals at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., in March and July, respectively; and his first- and second-career, point-paying restrictor-plate wins at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in April and July, respectively.
As for Texas, Busch has turned his luck around at TMS as of late. After starting no better than 24th and finishing not higher than 15th in his first three starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Busch has finished fourth or better in three of his last four races at Texas, including a career-best finish of third in April's Samsung 500. The third-place run was preceded by his first Nationwide Series win at Texas the previous day as he led four times for a race-high 126 laps. It was also the first-ever win for JGR's No. 18 Nationwide Series team.
So, might this be the weekend that Busch is able to add another first to the list?
Given that he's racing deep in the heart of Texas, there might not be anywhere more appropriate for a guy nicknamed "Rowdy" to win.
KYLE BUSCH: Driver, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
Do you look forward to the race in Texas more than you did early on in your career?
"In the Craftsman Truck Series and Nationwide Series, Texas has been a pretty good place for me. I have qualified well there in the Trucks and I have finished second twice. I won the spring race in the Nationwide Series there and I feel like we will have another good car going back this time. Besides that, I have finished third or fourth the last couple times in the Cup car, so it's been good, as well. So, I am looking forward to keeping that run going there at Texas."
You have had some pretty good success at Texas Motor Speedway recently. Are you getting more comfortable there each time you go back?
"It used to not be so much. I've had some wild races there early on in my career and it wasn't one of my favorite places, for whatever reason. Things have gone well, recently. I have sort of learned how to drive it a little bit better and I know what I need in my race car to make it easier. Finishing third or fourth the past couple times in the Cup Series has been a confidence-booster there. I can't seem to get past second place in the Truck Series or win in Cup, so hopefully that's something we can change this weekend."
Do you feel it is an advantage or a disadvantage, running all three races at TMS this weekend?
"I like it because you get to go out there and drive and do what you love to do. For me, I just enjoy getting out there on the race track. I would presume that any extra time on the track is an advantage. To run the triple with the Truck, the Nationwide, and the Cup stuff, it always helps. At least for me. You get a sense of the track, air pressure adjustments, and things to change on the vehicles throughout the race."
Atlanta was always a tough place for you and you were able to break through there this season. Do you think you could experience a similar breakthrough at Texas?
"Not really because of my Atlanta experience, but I think we can. Every track is different. You can't expect to run well at one track and have it translate over to another, no matter how close the configuration is. We've just got to be able go out there in each practice session and try to make the car better."
Even though several of the 1.5-mile tracks look the same to the fans, what is the difference in a place like Texas compared to where you were last weekend at Atlanta?
"I think Texas is a fast place, too, but its surface isn't as rough as Atlanta's is right now. It's going to be a little bit different getting in and coming up off the corners than Atlanta because there isn't as much banking at Texas getting into the corner. For me, Texas has always been a tricky place. I've never really run well there and been confident there. I get a little more comfortable each time I get back there in the Cup car and hopefully we can get the race car close to my liking when we get there this weekend."
Does your fifth-place finish at Atlanta give you any momentum for the final three races?
"I think it does, a little bit. We needed to get back to running in the top-10 and the top-five and not have any problems before we could turn our focus back to winning like we were earlier this season. It was a step in the right direction. (Crew chief) Steve Addington and the M&M's guys fought hard all day and never gave up on it and we finally hit on something during the final two pit stops of the day. Those kinds of races show you a lot about what your guys are made of, when you don't have a great race car to start but just keep plugging away. We've been pretty good on the mile-and-a-half tracks, so I think Texas is our best chance to win a Cup race over the final three. We have some work to do on our flat track stuff, and I've always had bad luck at Homestead. But, there are a lot of places that I've had some bad luck in the past that we've been able to turn it around at this year, so I'm hoping this weekend is another good one for us."