BRIAN ICKLER First Date with the Lady in Black MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2010) -- Brian Ickler has watched the old races, heard the stories and sought advice from the veterans. But the 24-year-old driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle...
First Date with the Lady in Black
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2010) -- Brian Ickler has watched the old races, heard the stories and sought advice from the veterans.
But the 24-year-old driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series knows nothing can really prepare him for his first NASCAR start at the famous Darlington (S.C.) Raceway -- a place that opened in 1950.
Ickler has been to one NASCAR event at the track nicknamed "The Lady in Black" -- the NASCAR Nationwide Series race won by Denny Hamlin earlier this year. However, he knows the view from the stands is completely different than the view he'll get from the driver's seat of his Toyota when he takes the green flag in Saturday night's Too Tough To Tame 200 Camping World Truck Series event.
The 1.366-mile, high-banked, egg-shaped oval is steeped in NASCAR history and has always challenged man and machine with its odd shape and high speeds. So tough is Darlington that it's not uncommon for the winning car to appear as though it's been in a demolition derby.
Ickler knows that everyone must make his first start at Darlington at some point, and he's heading to South Carolina with an open mind and a willingness to learn -- two keys to being successful during a maiden voyage to the track often called "Too Tough To Tame."
That willingness to learn has paid off for Ickler in 2010 as he has four top-10 finishes in five starts in the No. 18 Toyota. His efforts have also helped the team, for while no driver from KBM is going for the driver's championship, the No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owner's title and is second in the standings, just 18 points behind the first-place No. 30 truck of Germain Racing.
Brian Ickler, Driver, No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What have people told you about competing at Darlington for the first time?
"It is intimidating. You run against the wall. Everyone has told me that I will hit the wall, numerous times, because that's how you get around there. It's always been one of those racetracks that didn't have any grip. They've recently paved it, so I've heard it does have grip, now. There are just a lot of unknowns. I'm not really sure what to expect. I've been talking to Kyle and he's been helping me. We'll have to find out when we hit the track the first time we practice."
Can you recall watching races at Darlington on television growing up?
"Of course. I didn't watch a lot of the really old races, but I remember watching them in the '90s, and then in the early 2000s when Kyle was running Nationwide races there. The (Sprint) Cup race he won there (in 2008), the right side of his car was beat to hell, so it kind of shows you how you kind of have to attack the place. You're up on the wall all night long."
What are a few of the things you've learned this year compared to last year?
"The biggest thing for me is just that I've been able to run better at the tracks this year that I ran at last year. Knowing what I need from the daytime to the nighttime and how the track is going to change. I've learned a ton on the tire. There are times this year where I've gotten knocked sideways and, before, I would have wrecked. I think experience is just the biggest thing that has been helping me."
Rick Ren, Director of Competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Overall thoughts heading back to Darlington?
"We're really excited. Those of us who have been around a while miss racing at Darlington. It's one of those racetracks where it takes the whole team to make it happen. The driver has to be very self-disciplined. The crew has to build something that will turn well and have lots of grip and forward bite. Track position is huge, so the pit crew has to really be on top of its game to keep you out front. So, it's one of those old-time racetracks where it definitely takes everyone being at the top of his game to get the job done there."
What do you tell a young guy like Brian Ickler making his first-ever start at Darlington?
"It's a tough place for rookies. No matter what you can think of that would be your worst possible nightmare, multiply it by 10 at Darlington. It's going to be a learning curve for him. I've already tried to share some experiences that I've had there and I know Kyle has spoken with him, as well."
How do you set up for a place like Darlington?
"It takes a little bit of Charlotte, a little bit of Dover and maybe a little bit of Nashville. It's kind of a deal to where you have to compromise. It's similar to what you had to do at Nashville last week -- both ends are totally different there, too. Part of the deal of both ends being different is where self-discipline comes in, making sure you're on top of your game because that racetrack will bite you."
How challenging is it for the team to race at Darlington on Saturday night, and then race at Bristol the following Wednesday?
"We're taking a completely different truck to Bristol. It's just really hard on the guys because it's going to be really hot this week. Darlington is hot, so it's just a physical drain. We're going to be okay, equipment-wise. It's just a physical drain on the guys to go to Darlington and do a one-day show where it's probably going to be really hot and then, just a few days later, you have to turn around and do the same thing at Bristol."
Brian Ickler's Darlington Box Score
The Too Tough To Tame 200 will be Ickler's first start of any kind at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Brian Ickler's Toyota Tundra:
Chassis No. KBM-128: This truck's only start came in May at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, where KBM driver-owner Kyle Busch started on the pole and led 172 of 204 laps before finishing a disappointing 16th after suffering a fuel pump problem with less than 10 laps remaining.