Going Green in Search of the Checkered at Texas HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 1, 2009) -- As the founding sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Dallas-based Interstate Batteries and Chairman Norm Miller have experienced plenty of highs as primary...
Going Green in Search of the Checkered at Texas
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 1, 2009) -- As the founding sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Dallas-based Interstate Batteries and Chairman Norm Miller have experienced plenty of highs as primary sponsor of JGR's flagship No. 18 team.
Those include a Daytona 500 win with driver Dale Jarrett in 1993, 24 total race wins with former JGR drivers Jarrett and Bobby Labonte and current driver Kyle Busch, and the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with Labonte.
Despite all the success, Busch will attempt to deliver something that has been high on the wish list for Interstate Batteries in their home state -- a win at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth, located approximately 30 miles from Interstate's company headquarters in Dallas. Busch will look for that elusive Sprint Cup victory at TMS in Sunday's Samsung 500 Sprint Cup race.
To add to the nostalgia of the coming weekend for Busch and the No. 18 team, their Toyota will sport the retro green and bright-red paint scheme that is similar to the one used on Labonte's car during his 2000 championship season. The scheme coincides with Labonte's induction into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame on Wednesday evening, a ceremony that Busch and Miller will attend. Busch will also sport a logo in honor of Labonte's induction on the rear decklid of his Interstate Batteries Toyota.
While Interstate has gone to victory lane at 12 different racetracks in the last 17 years, including prestigious venues such as Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., Interstate and its distributors and dealers desperately want to add Texas to that list.
And if anyone can deliver that win, it's Busch, the talented 23-year-old who has made it a habit of winning at new venues over the past few years. Of the 30 tracks that will host NASCAR's top three divisions in 2009, Busch has competed at 28 of them at least once, winning at 20. The two tracks where he has not competed in the top three series are Iowa Speedway in Newton and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The eight venues where Busch has raced but not scored a victory are Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., and Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park.
Busch has captured back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide Series victories at Texas. But, like Interstate, he'll be shooting for his first Sprint Cup win at the 1.5-mile oval. Busch's 14 career Sprint Cup wins have come at 13 different racetracks with Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he was victorious two weeks ago, being the only venue where he's won more than once.
Will this be the weekend Interstate and Busch finally get their coveted Sprint Cup win at Texas? By celebrating the past, they hope they'll be able to make a little history on Sunday.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You are driving a throwback Interstate Batteries paint scheme at Texas. What do you remember about those days, and what are your thoughts about running this paint scheme in Norm Miller's backyard?
"The special Interstate Batteries scheme at Texas is going to be cool. I remember Bobby Labonte winning a bunch of races at Atlanta with that scheme with Interstate's black and fluorescent colors on it. It's going to be cool and I'm really looking forward to being able to have that scheme. The car looks great. It brings back some memories of Bobby and the guys at JGR winning a championship. It was Gibbs' first championship, so the 18 car, being able to do what we have the last couple of years, has brought back a lot of fond memories of that. I really would like to run well with it. And it's a special place for Norm (Miller, Chairman of Interstate Batteries), being in his backyard there in Dallas. But also having that paint scheme bring back some memories for Norm, bringing it to victory lane would be really special for the whole team, really."
Do you look forward to the race in Texas more than you did early on in your career?
"In the 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 think we've got a great shot of being able to sweep both Nationwide Series races at Texas again this year. We have great cars at Joe Gibbs Racing and there's no reason that we won't have a good shot. Besides that, I've 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 won earlier this year at Atlanta. As you head to Texas, a track with a similar configuration, does that give you any more confidence knowing how good you were at Atlanta?
"I think Texas is going to be a fast place. 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. We've been getting better in recent years in the Cup car and have had some success in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series. I get a little more comfortable each time I get back there in the Cup car and, hopefully, we can get the racecar close to my liking when we get there this weekend."
You have had 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 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 racecar 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."
You drive many different types of racecars, but which are your favorites and which are the most challenging?
"I enjoy racing them all -- probably the most fun are the Trucks with a very close second in the Nationwide cars. The Cup cars are the hardest cars to drive, so they aren't as fun. But you get the greatest satisfaction when you win a Cup race, just because it's the biggest of the big. You want to win as many of those as you can. I get satisfaction out of winning all of them. I get satisfaction out of winning in Late Models, racing against some of the best Late Model drivers across the country. Those guys never had the opportunity to make it up to the Trucks or the Nationwide or the Cup Series, but their talent level is certainly the best in what they're doing, so that's why it's always cool to race those guys, too. My favorite type of car of all time is my Super Late Model. I just love driving those cars. They're fun."