Homestead: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH Racing for the Biggest Win -- A Championship MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 16, 2010) -- The philosophy is simple -- "race to win." This three-word mantra summarizes the goals set forth by Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports...

KYLE BUSCH
Racing for the Biggest Win -- A Championship

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 16, 2010) -- The philosophy is simple -- "race to win."

This three-word mantra summarizes the goals set forth by Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team since its inception nearly one year ago.

Seven wins, four drivers and two race shops later, the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports team heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford 200 season finale, racing for the biggest win of its inaugural season: the 2010 Truck Series owner's championship.

Entering this weekend's season finale, the No. 18 Toyota sits atop the owner's standings with a commanding 120-point lead over the second-place No. 30 truck of Germain Racing, which is driven full-time by Todd Bodine, who secured the driver title at Phoenix International Raceway last weekend.

This weekend, Busch needs to finish just 29th or better in order to clinch the owner's championship in just his first season as an owner-driver. Aside from Richard Childress Racing's championship run in the Truck Series' inaugural 1995 season, Kyle Busch Motorsports would be the first organization to win the owner's championship in its first season.

When the No. 18 KBM Toyota Tundra hit the track 24 races ago at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the team was confident it would win races with its "rookie owner"/veteran driver behind the wheel.

But the team also knew that Busch wouldn't pilot the No. 18 truck every race. So to have a shot at its ultimate prize -- the owner's championship -- the No. 18 team would have to be competitive week in and week out, regardless of the driver's name above the door of the racetruck.

Busch has competed in 15 Truck Series races this year while sharing the seat with Brian Ickler, who drove in seven events, and Kasey Kahne and Johnny Benson, who drove one race apiece. And, while Busch has driven the No. 18 KBM Toyota to each of its seven victories, the four KBM drivers have combined for 15 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 24 races.

It has been a total team effort that has propelled the No. 18 Toyota to the top of the owner's standings with one race remaining.

Yes, for Busch and his No. 18 KBM team, the main goal this weekend is to secure the owner's championship. But he'd also like to score his first Truck win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In four Truck Series starts at the South Florida track, Busch has two top-five and three top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish in 2007. He has not finished lower than 13th at the 1.5-mile oval.

While Busch hasn't won in a Truck at Homestead, perhaps he does have luck on his side this year as he is already two-for-two this season with Traxxas, the primary sponsor on his No. 18 Toyota. Traxxas, known as the "Fastest Name in Radio Control®," is located in Plano, Texas, and served as primary sponsor of the No. 18 Toyota in Busch's victories at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., in August and at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in October.

And with a 120-point advantage in the owner's championship battle, Busch and his team have a cushion big enough that they can race for not one, but two wins in this weekend's finale -- the Ford 200 victory and the Truck Series owner's title.

Kyle Busch, Driver, No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:

What does the likelihood of winning the owner's truck title mean?

"It means a lot. We started this year and actually didn't have anything a year ago at this point, and coming as far as we've come -- it means quite a bit to myself and to Eric Phillips (crew chief) and Rick Ren (general manager) and all the families that we have that work for us. All the dedication that they give and the time that they've put in this year. When we started, I remember -- I think it was Dec. 1 -- Rick came on, he didn't start until Dec. 7 because he decided he wanted a vacation before he got involved in starting a race team. We had three guys working for us up until Christmas. And then, after Christmas, from Dec. 27 or whatever it was until New Year's, we had about seven guys. Then we had 14 guys on Jan. 5. We came from nothing. We came from redoing trucks from Xpress that we could just get to the racetrack. We bought some assets from Roush Racing to get to the racetrack for Daytona. We knew they had good restrictor-plate trucks, and we built a lot of our own new stuff. It's come a long way and it's been a lot of hard work but, yet, there's still a lot more work to do in order to get fully funded for next year."

This weekend, you head to Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 120-point lead in the owner's point battle. How important is having that point cushion?

"The cool thing about it is, it's our first year and we're in the running for the owner's championship. I think we have to finish something like 29th at Homestead and we can win this deal. It's good to have that little bit of cushion going, granted nothing happens. We'll be looking at the banquet on Monday. But we'll be careful in what we do and make sure the preparation is there. For our first year, to come out here and be so strong and have the guys I have pulling every single week for us, working as hard as we work and having the partners that we have, they're pumped about it. They love every minute of it. It's been fun. We're still looking for more next year and securing some bigger sponsors for some more races. But, hopefully, we can get some of that done during the offseason and go to Daytona and look forward to the full year."

Eric Phillips, Crew Chief, No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:

What's the strategy going into Homestead with a 120-point advantage?

"To go win the race. That's what we have done all year -- to go to the track to win races, and the points will play out where they do. We have to be somewhat cautious and try not to put ourselves in a bad position. We just need to keep doing what we've done all year, and we should be fine."

How would you describe Homestead-Miami Speedway?

"It's somewhat like your Chicagos, Kentuckys, Kansas, but it has some different characteristics, too. The corners are a little tighter. It's a little harder to get right. It's really a delicate balance to get the truck turning in the center and keeping it to where you can drive it off the corner. We'll have our work cut out for us, but it's been a good track for Kyle in the past."

How satisfying has this year been with seven wins for Kyle, and working with four different drivers and going for the owner's title?

"It's been tremendous. To be in the position we're in from where we started in January, with all new people, new equipment, it's very satisfying. We all knew Kyle could win, but to be competitive with everybody else who's driven, too, was one of our big goals at the beginning of the year."

As you look back over the year, do you have a favorite memory or something that sticks out that really meant a lot to you?

"The Nashville win. It was the first win for KBM. Personally, it was a hard week for me. The circumstances that I had gone through, that's probably the biggest one. Obviously, if we can close the deal this Friday night, that will be another big moment. But that Nashville win was a big deal for all of us."

Rick Ren, General Manager, No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:

Talk about the strategy going into Homestead with a 120-point lead in the owner's point title chase?

"We all know that we are going to go down there to race to win. We've already worked up the points, and if the 30 truck were to lead the most laps and win the race, we have to finish 29th or better. So that's kind of a cushion for us, going in there and knowing where we're at. Basically, I feel more comfortable now that we can go race to win, not worry about it, but we have to have our crash cart crew ready. We're going to have to make a plan because we know that we have to finish 29th or better. If we get torn up in the first five laps of the race and knock the front end off of it, we need to fix it. So I think, this week, we need to focus on the guys having all the crash stuff ready because it's pretty important to try and win this owner's championship. I feel good about it, where we're at. We've used four different drivers and moved race shops. I think it's good."

Can you talk about this year and what it has meant to you guys -- how both challenging and enjoyable it has been for you?

"We put a different group of guys together. Some of them knew each other, some of them didn't. A couple of them had worked for me before, and a couple of them hadn't. But I think everybody just focused on one thing, and it's race to win every week. The championships that I have been involved in and the second-place runs I've been involved in, we always had the same motto -- 'Race to win, race to win, race to win, the points will take care of themselves.' When you get down to the last few races of the year, sometimes you have to fine-tune that thought process to, 'Race to win ... up until this point.' It's like we talked about it going into the race at Phoenix. We need to race to win, but if it comes to the closing laps of the race, don't risk wrecking to win the race. And we're going to have to go to Homestead with the same philosophy. I think the year has been great. We've had our ups and downs. We've raced with a rookie. We've raced with a veteran. We've raced with Kyle. We've raced with Kasey (Kahne). Basically, our guys have worked with four different drivers, and none of them had ever worked with them before, and we've had really good runs with each of them. It's hats off to the guys. They've done a really good job."

Can you talk about setting up for Homestead?

"Eric and I sat down and talked about our Homestead set-up the other day. I've gone there with multiple set-ups and have not had much success. The last few years, I've been in Homestead racing to win the driver's championship so the drivers have been on edge and nothing feels right and it just doesn't go well. I watched Kyle run the Nationwide race there last year from up in the MRN booth, so I had a different view. I watched him do a lot of really cool things driving, so I know that he knows how to get around that racetrack. What Eric and I did is, we sat down and put a little bit of a Nashville and a little bit of Kentucky and a little bit of Chicago, and we kind of put it all together. That's how we're going to unload, and I think we'll be okay."

Do you have a highlight of the year?

"The Nashville win was big. Winning at Bristol is always big, and you put that in the trifecta that Kyle had there. Just to win at Bristol is pretty awesome. It's pretty tough to win at Bristol. Myself, I'm partial to Charlotte so, every time we win Charlotte, I'm pretty stoked up. The bad highlight of the year was Dover -- dominating the race and not getting the 'W.'"

Chassis No. KBM-004: This truck will make its sixth-ever start and will go for its fourth win of the season in Friday's Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-source: kbm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Johnny Benson , Kasey Kahne , Brian Ickler , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Germain Racing , Kyle Busch Motorsports