KYLE BUSCH Designs on a Truck Series Title in His Team's First Year MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 10, 2010) -- For Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team, the goal since the season-opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International...
KYLE BUSCH Designs on a Truck Series Title in His Team's First Year
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 10, 2010) -- For Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team, the goal since the season-opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway has been to win races and put the first-year organization in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship.
In 23 races, Busch has won seven Truck Series races and his No. 18 team has earned 18 top-10 finishes thanks to Busch and his co-drivers Johnny Benson, Brian Ickler and Kasey Kahne. And now, with just two races remaining in the 2010 season, the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Tundra team has not only put itself in contention to win the Truck Series owner championship, it actually sits atop the owner standings with a 72-point lead over the No. 30 truck of Germain Racing and its driver, Todd Bodine.
While the battle for the owner championship isn't over just yet, Busch and his No. 18 team have a firm hold on the lead and they know what they need to do to maintain that spot as the Truck Series rolls into the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., for Friday night's Lucas Oil 150. The goal over the next two races is to "finish the race strong and finish in front of the No. 30 truck," according to driver-owner Busch.
Of course, for Busch and his team, those words could mean that winning Friday's night race at the mile oval in the desert is the ultimate goal.
The team has already celebrated in victory lane a series-high seven times this season thanks to Busch, who has tied his own career best in Truck Series competition. And Busch heads to Phoenix on a winning streak, having scored victories at the last two Truck Series races -- at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
The Talladega victory enabled the team to take over the owner points lead, and the Texas win increased it to 72 points. Naturally, Busch and his KBM team would like to have more of the same results this weekend at Phoenix.
In five Truck Series starts at Phoenix, Busch has one win (2007) and four top-10 finishes. His one finish outside of the top-10 was an 11th-place effort in his first series start at the track in 2005. The last two seasons, Busch has finished in the runner-up spot at Phoenix, both times to Kevin Harvick.
This weekend will mark Busch's first start at Phoenix in his own equipment. With his KBM team poised to claim the Truck Series owner title in its first season, Busch most certainly has his designs on a victory at the mile oval, nestled in the Arizona desert.
Kyle Busch, Driver, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How important is it as a team owner to finish the season off strong and build toward next year?
"Right now, with what we're doing, our main goal is to go out there, we want to win but we know we need to finish strong and finish in front of the 30 truck (Todd Bodine) to try to win the owner's championship. That right there is going to be a huge task. As long as you are running well, you will be finishing in front of the 30 so you can get the owner's championship.All our guys back at the shop -- that's all they've been fighting for all year. They want to win races and now that they have a chance for a championship, some of them it's their first championship. Others, like Rick Ren (general manager), it's just another level that he's been at an organization.He hasn't won a championship as a general manager.He's teaching all these guys.He used to be the leader and make the decisions. Well, now, Eric (Phillips, crew chief) is making a lot of the decisions. It goes around. These guys are pumped about it. We want to build what we can in the last few weeks and show how strong we are and how well-built this program is and what we're ready for next year when we get to Daytona."
Will you gamble for a win, or will you keep the points in your mind when making decisions late in the race?
"Well, it was probably Kentucky where we were leading the race and (Todd) Bodine spun out and then he came to pit road and he was going to be like two laps short on fuel. In that scenario, if he does that, we've got to do the same thing because we're racing the 30 truck. That's all we're racing.So, if he comes down pit road and is going to be two laps short and is going to try to stretch it on fuel, we've got to play the same strategy.We can't take our chance of staying out there and waiting for a caution because, if the caution comes out, then we still have to come to pit road. Those guys are going to stay out and we're still going to have to pass the guys who didn't come to pit road. You've just got to play it by ear. You've got to be smart about it right now and I don't think you can take too many chances. But the main guy who you watch is the 30 (Todd Bodine)."
Rick Ren, Director of Competition, No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Does the fact that you have a 72-point lead in the owner championship going into Phoenix this weekend change your team's strategy?
"I think we're almost to the point now -- well, first you've got to understand that we're still going to the racetrack to win -- but there comes a point where you have to ask how hard do you push the button to win the race. We know Kyle, and we know that he only wants to win. So we're going to have to analyze as the race plays out. Are we good enough to win, or are we good enough to run second? And we're going to take a chance getting our stuff torn up to win? You have to be thinking. I think we need to come out of Phoenix at least maintaining our 72 point lead because if you go back and look at Talladega, that was something like an 83-point turnaround that day, and that shows we could also have an 83- or 84-point swing and end up not being the points leader leaving Phoenix. So, you've kind of got to race this weekend, but you've got to be a little bit on the defensive, too."
In five starts at Phoenix, Kyle has one win and four top-10 finishes. He has never finished lower than 11th, and the past two seasons he has finished second to Kevin Harvick. How do you think Kyle will stack up in his KBM equipment at Phoenix?
"The truck that we're taking to Phoenix is actually the same truck he won with at Loudon. I think Kyle has a lot of confidence in our team and in our equipment right now. I think that we'll be one of the contenders going out there. I just feel like it will be kind of like Loudon. We unloaded pretty good there, and I just think we will be in the hunt. I think we've got good equipment under Kyle and, I think, the mission we are on and the statement that we are trying to make, that we will be pretty good there this weekend."
Looking back to January, when you guys were pulling all the pieces of KBM together, did you have any indication that you would be not only in the hunt for the owner championship, but leading the points with two races to go?
"In reality, knowing that we were going to use multiple drivers for the 18 truck, the answer is 'no.' It's still always been a goal since day one. The only thing we have to race for in the top three series is to win a championship. That's the only goal there is. So we set our goals kind of high, I think, back in January. I think that shows the competition level of everyone who works here at KBM, to try and make that goal a reality. Really, going into the year, knowing that we were going to use multiple drivers, I thought the chances were slim that we could pull this off."
Kyle Busch's Z-Line Designs Toyota Tundra:
Chassis No. KBM-006: Brian Ickler drove this truck in July at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., where he started 10th and finished ninth. The only other time Chassis 006 was used was in September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where Busch started on the pole and led 156 of 175 laps en route to victory.