KYLE BUSCH & TAYLER MALSAM Debut, Part Deux MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 3, 2010) -- While it's true that the Feb. 13 NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was the debut race for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in the ...
KYLE BUSCH & TAYLER MALSAM
Debut, Part Deux
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 3, 2010) -- While it's true that the Feb. 13 NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was the debut race for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Saturday's E-Z Go 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., might be the first race to really let the team know where it stacks up against the competition.
Better put, "Debut, Part Deux."
Daytona is a restrictor-plate racetrack where the draft plays a key role in the outcome of the race. With the trucks running close together throughout the event, it's easy for drivers to get caught up in an accident not of their own making, and that's exactly what happened to KBM driver-owner Kyle Busch and his teammate, Tayler Malsam.
Busch was the first victim of misfortune as he was caught up in a multi-truck accident in turn three on the very first lap. The No. 18 Toyota Tundra suffered extensive damage to the right side and Busch was forced to drive to the garage for lengthy repairs, which put him out of contention. He returned to the track and was one the fastest trucks on the circuit, but was 17 laps down and finished 22nd.
Malsam, in his second full season of Truck Series racing, was in the top-10 for much of the first 30 laps of the 100-lap event but, like Busch, was caught up in a multi-truck accident not of his making in turn three on lap 32. The 20-year-old driver, who qualified the highest of all Toyota trucks in sixth, finished 17th, six laps behind in the No. 56 Toyota.
After three weeks off, Kyle Busch Motorsports heads to Atlanta with brand new Toyota Tundras for both Busch and Malsam. Atlanta is a fast, high-banked racetrack, 1.54-miles in length. Given that 17 of the 25 Camping World Truck Series events are conducted on tracks between 1 and 2 miles in length, the 120-lap race should give KBM officials a better idea of what's working and what's not, more so than their debut at Daytona.
A big advantage for the team will be Busch's incredible Truck Series record at Atlanta, which includes four wins and an eighth-place finish in five starts. He's led in all five races for a total 191 laps and completed all 650 circuits available to him.
His teammate Malsam, who readily admits he's going to absorb as much of Busch's Atlanta knowledge as possible, finished a solid 13th in his only start at the 1.54-mile oval one year ago. He started 29th, gained 16 positions and completed all 130 laps -- an impressive debut for a rookie at one of the fastest and trickiest tracks on the circuit.
Atlanta is technically the second race of the Camping World Truck Series, but for Kyle Busch Motorsports, it might just be the first race of the rest of the season.
Kyle Busch: Owner, Kyle Busch Motorsports & Driver, No. 18 NASCAR Camping World Series Toyota Tundra
You've got one race under your belt as driver-owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports. What are your thoughts thus far?
"Daytona didn't go exactly like we'd hoped, but I'm still really proud of everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. It took a lot of time and effort to make sure we were ready to hit the track and I'll admit I was a little nervous about the whole weekend. Once I fired up the truck and took my first lap, I think I had a smile about a mile wide. To know all the effort it took to get the two trucks ready for Daytona, I couldn't have been more proud of our entire organization. It's a pretty special feeling when you're driving your own equipment, and that first time will be a moment I'll remember for the rest of my career. Now that we've got the first race out of the way, I think everyone will be more comfortable going into Atlanta. Everyone knows his role, and I know we'll have two good trucks heading into Atlanta."
You've dominated Atlanta Truck Series races, winning four of the five you've entered. What makes you so good there?
"It's a track I really like. It's fast and the truck races there are always really good. We've had a lot of success there and, obviously, getting our fifth win there would be huge because it'd be the first win for KBM. We think we have the trucks capable of getting it done, so were excited to get back on track at Atlanta, for sure."
What's the long-term goal for Kyle Busch Motorsports?
"I think the long-term goal of the company is to build a successful organization in the Truck Series. From there, whether we open up into a Nationwide team or a Cup team, eventually, down the road, remains to be seen. That's something that certainly could be a possibility. It all comes down to sponsorships. We all know how tough that is, now, in the economic times we're in. We're looking to try to make this into something that is prosperous and can go on for a long time."
What are the short-term goals for Kyle Busch Motorsports?
"I think our short-term goals for this year are to just go out and try to win a race. I want to win a race, of course, but to go out and win multiple races would be a success. To win a race for Brian Ickler and to win a race for Tayler Malsam -- we at least need three wins out of the shop this year, one for all three drivers -- in order for it to be a success, in my book."
Tayler Malsam: Driver, No. 56 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports
With one race completed, what are your overall thoughts on how Kyle Busch Motorsports has performed thus far?
"I've been very impressed with everything that the KBM team has done in a short time. I think we showed everyone a little bit of what we could do at Daytona and, unfortunately, we both got caught up in a wreck. Things are going really smooth at the shop. We're building some really good trucks. People are working really hard to give us the best possible trucks on race weekends."
Can you talk about your race at Daytona and the disappointment that went with it?
"At Daytona, we both had really good trucks that were capable of winning that race and, unfortunately, we both got caught up in early accidents. I think some guys were driving a little too hard, too early, with plenty of laps left to go. It was disappointing, but I have plenty of faith in KBM that we'll have great trucks this weekend and every weekend. We'll get better each week."
Atlanta is a fast, tough racetrack and you completed your first race there last year. Talk about that.
"I was a little nervous last year, since it was the first mile-and-a-half racetrack I'd been to. I learned a lot in last year's race and I'd like to carry that momentum from what I learned into this year's race. I just want to do my best. I know we'll have a good truck and I just want to run well all day."
What can you learn about Atlanta from Kyle Busch, given that he has won there four times in a truck?
"Kyle dominates that track like he does a lot of tracks. I'll definitely be picking his brain on what he does there to be successful. It's a huge advantage to have him as a teammate."
You and your crew chief, Dan Stillman, appear to be working well together. Can you talk about that relationship?
"We're a good team together. He's worked with some great drivers and I'm glad he took a shot to work with me. We're communicating well and it's a lot of fun working with him."
Rick Ren: Director of Competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports
What are your overall thoughts heading into Atlanta?
"We've built both teams brand new trucks. The guys have done a great job building those trucks. Tayler has only raced there one time and I know he's looking forward to going back. We talked about driving the racetrack and he's a little familiar with some little things that he thinks will help him and we discussed some things for him to try. Kyle has had really good success there. Kyle's always been really good on the short run there, and we're hoping that the trucks we've built will be good for the whole run. We'll wait and see. Goodyear's coming with a brand new tire, so we don't know what to expect with the tire, yet. We're kind of hoping it just has more grip. Time will tell. As far as the whole outlook, I feel these guys have built two really good trucks. It's the first real step in our mile-and-a-half program to try to see what Tayler and Kyle like to drive. Daytona is Daytona, but this is our first real downforce deal. I'm really looking forward to it. We're excited about going just to see if we've built some really nice stuff and if it runs fast."
It was a disappointing start to the season, but there were some positives that came out of Daytona. Can you talk about those as you head to Atlanta?
"(Atlanta) really is the beginning of the season. The things that did come out of Daytona that were good were that one of our two trucks was the best Toyota in class in qualifying (Malsam, sixth) and that we saw how good the guys were at repairing two wrecked racetrucks. Both guys got back out and raced competitively. Kyle actually came from the back to the front and, even though he was numerous laps down, he was still strong enough to lead the field. That still shows a lot of team effort for a brand new program of people just working together for the first time to be able to put the trucks back together like they did. Yes, you only get one chance to make a debut, and it's certainly not what Kyle wanted, but if you look at the big picture, everyone knows we were there."
The team seemed to perform very well under tough circumstance in its first race at Daytona. Can you talk about how the team has come together?
"We tried to put together a group of people who came from different entities. You have different levels of leadership on the team and we gave them some direction. Basically, this is how you look, this is how you perform and this is how you act. If you want to be a championship-caliber program, you have to act like a championship program. I was very proud of all the guys down there. They prepared really good racetrucks, they carried themselves well, they did a good job on pit road and they did a great job with damage repair. Nobody had his head down or was whining or complaining or pointing fingers at other race teams. I was really proud of the way the team performed down there."