KYLE BUSCH To the Victor Go the Spoilers HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 13, 2010) - Since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series changed from a rear wing to a rear spoiler two races ago, Kyle Busch has been in contention for the win at both ...
To the Victor Go the Spoilers
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 13, 2010) - Since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series changed from a rear wing to a rear spoiler two races ago, Kyle Busch has been in contention for the win at both events.
The only problem for Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is that late-race cautions at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and last weekend's event at Phoenix International Raceway, and the pit-road decisions that followed, have spoiled those strong runs.
However, they have not spoiled the team's overall outlook for Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The high-speed, high-banked 1.5-mile oval will be the biggest test yet for the new rear spoiler as aerodynamics play a huge role in the handling of the racecars at Texas.
While the last two finishes of 22nd and eighth, respectively, have been frustrating for Busch and the Interstate Batteries team, they can also take solace in the fact they've put together back-to-back strong runs and have come ever-so-close to their first Sprint Cup win of the season while vaulting from 16th to 12th in the standings and into contention for the Chase for the Championship. At Phoenix, Busch led a race-high 113 laps but came up short in the final green-white-checker dash to the finish as the team, along with several others, agonized on whether to pit for two or four tires for the two-lap shootout.
Much like the talented 24-year-old has been closing in on his first Sprint Cup win of the season in recent weeks, it has been a similar story at Texas, where Busch led a race-high 232 laps but came just three laps short of winning last November's Dickies 500 before his gas tank sputtered and he was forced to settle for a disappointing 11th-place finish.
So, while Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the No. 18 team have had victory within their reach, they've had to watch someone else celebrate in victory lane, instead.
As the saying goes, "to the victor go the spoils." But, Sunday at Texas, it might be the team that figures out the spoiler first that likely will be the one celebrating in victory lane. Busch and Rogers have shown they've figured it out the last two races, so now it's up to them to close the deal.
KYLE BUSCH: Driver, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry at Texas Motor Speedway:
You came so close to winning at Texas last fall. With all the Nationwide Series wins you've had at Texas and the Truck Series win there last fall, what's it going to take to finally get a Sprint cup win at Texas?
"We obviously ran really well there last fall. We just came about a NOS Energy Drink bottle of gas short, I guess. I think we have a really good baseline for Texas with the old tire. Along with the spoiler change, there's a new tire that we'll be on this weekend and we'll see how much that changes things. It seemed to change things at more than a few tracks so far this year. There are plenty of things we'll have to wait and see about between how we race in traffic with the spoiler and the new tire. We'd really like to win at Texas, since Interstate Batteries hasn't been able to win at its home track yet. It would mean a lot to me and all the guys to be able to get that green car to victory lane for Norm (Miller, Interstate Batteries chairman) and everyone at Interstate."
What are your initial thoughts on the difference between the wing and the spoiler from the Charlotte test as it pertains to the first 1.5-mile oval race this weekend in Texas?
"Not a whole lot of difference, but definitely some change. Whether it's change for the good or the bad yet, we won't know until we get into a pack at a race. My initial thoughts after the Charlotte test would be that it adds a lot of grip to the car, makes the cars comfortable to drive but, to me, it might make it harder in traffic. I'm very curious to see how it changes the handling during a race, since this weekend will really be the first big test for the spoiler on an aero track."
You've said you feel your learning curve with crew chief Dave Rogers has shortened as the season has progressed and that you're now figuring each other out, evidenced by the way you've run up front the last two weeks. To what degree are we talking about?
"A little bit. I mean, I'm still learning things every weekend. I've been doing a lot of stuff this year around Dave, trying to learn Dave as a person, trying to learn, still, how to work with the team. The team's not new to me, but working with the guys, being able to come back year after year, work with the same group of guys, being able to not have anything go stale, keeping everybody excited about what's ahead, what we can do next, that's what it's all about right now."
You've 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. Obviously, the Nationwide Series wins the last couple of years and getting the win in the Truck Series last year have been real confidence boosters there. 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 in the Cup Series since coming to JGR has been a confidence booster there. I can't seem to get that win in Cup that's eluded me, even though we've been close. So, hopefully, that's something we can change this weekend."