KYLE BUSCH Right Place, Right Time MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 28, 2010) -- No matter how good a driver is, when it comes to racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, finding victory lane, perhaps more than anywhere else, consists of being in ...
Right Place, Right Time
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 28, 2010) -- No matter how good a driver is, when it comes to racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, finding victory lane, perhaps more than anywhere else, consists of being in the right place at the right time.
Kyle Busch, driver-owner of the No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), knows that all too well as he's been in the right place at the right time at the 2.66-mile oval and gone to victory lane. However, he's also been in the wrong place at the wrong time and gone home sans trophy.
Thus is racing at Talladega. Busch knows that, in Saturday's Mountain Dew 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event, the draft will once again play a major role in the outcome of the race.
Talladega, which joins Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway as the only two restrictor-plate tracks on the Camping World Truck Series schedule, is a place where aerodynamics and horsepower reign supreme. But when everyone has a truck capable of hitting nearly 200 mph, drivers need drafting partners to push them through the air and ahead of their counterparts.
Sometimes you have help and sometimes you don't, so drivers must do what they can to be in position to make a move exiting turn four on the final lap. There is no textbook way to win a restrictor-plate race, so victory, again, is quite often being in the right place at the right time.
Busch knows that Talladega will be key to his ability to obtain the Camping World Truck Series owners championship. He has driven 12 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.
The foursome has combined to put the No. 18 Toyota second in the owner standings, just 39 points behind the first-place No. 30 truck of Germain Racing, which is driven full-time by Todd Bodine.
Busch is scheduled to drive the final four Truck Series events -- Saturday at Talladega and then Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Nov. 12 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., and the season finale Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
One bit of good luck this week for Busch may be 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 in August at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., where Busch led 121 of 154 laps en route to victory.
Being 1-0 with Traxxas as his primary sponsor, and that he's found victory lane at the superspeedway once in Trucks (October 2009) and once in Sprint Cup competition (April 2008), Busch hopes Talladega on Saturday will be the "right place" and the "right time" for him to move past the No. 30 truck in the owners championship.
Kyle Busch, Driver, No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What is the best-case scenario at Talladega with five laps to go?
"You just want to be leading and protect what you've got and try to keep the rest of the guys behind you. You know it's going to be tough. You know it's going to be crazy and guys are going to try to go three-wide, four-wide and everywhere trying to get a push-draft going and everything. If you were leading and you had a teammate behind you or something like that, obviously that would make it pretty good."
What is the key to pulling off a victory at Talladega?
"The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble with our Traxxas Tundra. You pretty much stay around the bottom, since there is a lot of grip there, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single-file at the bottom, sometimes it's hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good trucks to get something going. It can be frustrating at times because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that's when it starts to get crazy."
Does being a former race winner at Talladega offer you any sort of advantage over the competition?
"It doesn't matter at all. It's such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what's going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief, No. 18 Traxxas Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What is the strategy going into Talladega?
"We've just tried to build the fastest thing we could build here at the shop. We're going to go and try to lead laps and run up front and stay out of the back so we stay out of the mess. That's kind of the idea."
How do the trucks handle at Talladega compared to the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series cars?
"I think they're pretty much the same. Now, with the COT (Car of Tomorrow) Cup car, I think they are probably a lot more similar than they used to be. The trucks put a big hole in the air, so there is a lot of drafting and a lot of passing. It's about who you're with and what line you're in when it's time to go. There won't be a dominant truck that gets out front and rides all day. You just have to get yourself in the right position with a lap to go and be in front when the checkered flag falls."
With the lack of testing available, what have you done since Daytona to try and improve the truck that you're bringing to Talladega?
"We do a lot in the wind tunnel and a lot at our shop on the pull-down rig. That's about all you can do. There's not a lot, without any testing at a racetrack, that you can do. You use the wind tunnel and work on all the suspension pieces to make it travel as far as it can to keep it out of the air."
Chassis No. KBM-SS 001: This truck was driven by Busch in the season-opening event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway where he started 16th and finished 22nd after being involved in an early race accident.