KYLE BUSCH & TAYLER MALSAM Third Race, Third Different Style of Track MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 2010) -- In its brief history, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has participated in just two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. The first...
KYLE BUSCH & TAYLER MALSAM
Third Race, Third Different Style of Track
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 2010) -- In its brief history, Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has participated in just two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events.
The first took place in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, a 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway where NASCAR uses restrictor plates to keep the speed of the trucks down. Following that, KBM's two-truck duo of driver/owner Kyle Busch and driver Tayler Malsam participated in the 130-lap Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track one mile shorter in length than Daytona but with banking nearly as high.
Up next is Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, a track a mile shorter in length than Atlanta and a track which, if one does the math correctly, equals a half-mile in length. What this means for Kyle Busch Motorsports is that, as the races have added up, the tracks have gotten smaller.
Martinsville, site of Saturday's Kroger 250, is .526 miles in length, the smallest of all tracks the Camping World Truck Series will compete on in 2010. It's shaped like a paperclip with long straightaways, tight corners and a groove that seems about as wide as a back country road.
Racing in such close quarters usually means quite a bit of beating and banging. As a result, several drivers are likely to get mad and lose their temper.
Drivers and teams can avoid much of the beating and banging by qualifying well on Friday afternoon and ensuring a starting spot in the front of the field and perhaps, more importantly, a good pit stall. Given that the Kroger 250 is only 131.5 miles in length, teams will only make one or two pit stops, leaving little chance to make changes to the truck during the race or attempt to gain track position with a unique pit strategy.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra, and Malsam, driver of the No. 56 Toyota Tundra, know that in order to be successful at Martinsville, they'll need to make sure their trucks are handling well during Friday's two practice sessions and then follow that up with a solid qualifying effort in order to secure a spot up front and a good pit stall selection. On race day, the pit crew must perform their stop flawlessly and the driver must get on and off pit road quickly in order to maintain a spot up front.
One miscue can cost a team 20 positions, and any driver can tell you that making up positions in the tight confines of Martinsville is one of the toughest things to do.
So, while the race is Saturday, Busch, who finished second at Atlanta, and Malsam, who finished a solid 13th, know that the race can really be won or lost by what happens on Friday.
Kyle Busch, Owner, Kyle Busch Motorsports & Driver, No. 18 NASCAR Camping World Series Toyota Tundra:
Having two races under your belt this season as a Truck Series owner, how do you see your season going so far?
"I've been happy with the way our team has come together. Rick Ren (director of competition) has done a really good job, as have the crew chiefs, Dan Stillman and Eric Phillips. We've built some really good trucks and everyone's working very hard. We were competitive at Atlanta and ran second, and Tayler ran very well and finished 13th. He keeps learning and getting better and absorbing knowledge from the people around him. Toyota has been a huge asset for us. We'd like to get some sponsorship. We've had a lot of phone calls, a lot of people are interested. Just, unfortunately, we haven't had things go down the way we would have liked to get some sponsorship on these trucks to make sure everything is funded for the whole season. We're going to run the whole season, regardless."
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 sponsorship. 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 your overall thoughts on Martinsville?
"It's a difficult racetrack. I feel like I've gotten better there, but still I've never really been one of the drivers who's been the one to worry about going into Martinsville. You need to qualify well and stay up front and make sure you have track position. I've had a few good runs there in a truck, but we just haven't been able to finish it off in the end. You're only going to make one or two pit stops, so there's not a lot of time to adjust on the truck if it's not handling well. That's why practice is so important."
Tayler Malsam, Driver, No. 56 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What are your overall thoughts heading into Martinsville?
"I feel I learn every time I go there. I think I've gotten better with each race and, hopefully, that will continue this week. It's all about getting your truck to rotate through the center of the corner. If you can get it to rotate, then you're set. But, if it's tight or loose and you can't get any forward bite, then you're in for a long day."
Given that there is only one, maybe two pit stops throughout the day, does that make practice much more important?
"For sure. Knowing you only get one shot to work on the truck means that, if you make the wrong decision, it can make for a long last part of the race. It puts a lot of pressure on you during practice and that one stop to make sure you get it right."
How important is qualifying at Martinsville?
"It's big. It helps if you start up front, and that way you don't have to fight your way up from the back. I'm confident we'll have good trucks from the KBM team. It's just a matter of putting down a good, solid lap."
Is it strange for you to go from a superspeedway, to a 1.5-mile tri-oval and onto a short track for your first three races?
"It's different. I like the challenge of going to different types of racetracks. I like the challenge of racing at places like Martinsville and Bristol, since they're unique compared to a lot of the tracks we go to."
Rick Ren, Director of Competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports:
You left Daytona with two damaged racetrucks. What were your thoughts after Atlanta with Busch finishing second and Malsam 13th?
"We had two competitive racetrucks at Atlanta and, for our first downforce race, I felt really good about that. Tayler had a really good truck at Atlanta, but he got off tire sequence to avoid a wreck and they had to use up a set of tires. So that really didn't help the '56' at all. It didn't let us show at the end of the day how good we really were. We felt really good about Kyle running in second. I think our first two races, so far, we had a superspeedway race at Daytona and showed up and we unloaded pretty strong there, and we had our first downforce race at Atlanta and we were pretty strong there. Now, we have our first short-track venue. At Martinsville, you can be off just a tick and be 25th in qualifying. We tested our brake package and some travel issues and we worked on some shock stuff. I feel good that we'll unload somewhere in the hunt at Martinsville. That will be a test because you basically start out superspeedway, mile-and-a-half and then short track, all in a row. If we can perform well at Martinsville, it will show how much the guys have done."
What is the key to being successful at Martinsville?
"Track position, especially in the Truck Series, is huge at Martinsville. You're probably only going to pit one time, so you have to have good track position, you have to have a good pit stop, and you have to have a good pit stall. If you get hung up in a bad pit stall down in the curves because you had a bad qualifying run, you can lose five or six spots on pit road. And you might not get that back. You've got to have brakes and you've also got to have 'breaks.' You have to have it both ways because you need some luck, too."
Malsam is still quite young but seems to be absorbing a lot of knowledge from Busch, his crew chief Dan Stillman and you. Can you talk about his continuing development?
"I think he's paying quite a bit of attention. We have an experienced crew chief with Dan telling him things. We put a really experienced spotter with him (Mike Swaim), and he's telling him things, as well. If you take Kyle's perspective on the racetrack and then add a spotter helping on the racetrack, and then you have Dan giving him advice and I'm there to kind of lean on, I just think he has a great opportunity to learn and I think he's absorbing a lot. I ride in the car with him a lot to and from the racetrack and he is listening and he is absorbing. When we told him to pick the pace up a little bit at Atlanta, he went ahead and did that. A lot of that comes from just getting self-confidence in your own ability. 'How hard can I drive this?' It's still a new learning curve for him."