Atlanta: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH Farm Bureau Insurance Banking on Busch at Atlanta HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., (March 5, 2008) -- Kyle Busch and his fellow NASCAR Nationwide Series competitors waved goodbye to his hometown of Las Vegas after last weekend's Sam's Town 300 at...

Farm Bureau Insurance Banking on Busch at Atlanta

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., (March 5, 2008) -- Kyle Busch and his fellow NASCAR Nationwide Series competitors waved goodbye to his hometown of Las Vegas after last weekend's Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The series is now onto Atlanta Motor Speedway, and even though Busch is changing horses for the third time in four events this season, he remains the ever-possible winning bet when he straps into the No. 20 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota for Saturday's Nicorette 300.

Look no further than the first three Nationwide Series events for proof that Busch will again have the car to beat. The No. 20 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota is fielded by the same Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) crew that won the season-opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the very next week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., with Tony Stewart at the wheel. Stewart and No. 20 team crew chief Dave Rogers appeared headed for a season-opening triple at Las Vegas as they had the No. 20 Toyota in the lead twice for a total of 61 laps before an accident knocked Stewart out of the race.

Meanwhile, Busch has enjoyed an almost equally strong start to the season while driving for two different teams. The 22-year-old earned back-to-back second-place finishes to Stewart at Daytona driving the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for JGR and at Fontana driving the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota. Busch has led a total of 67 laps in the three Nationwide Series races run thus far, including 18 at Las Vegas when he returned to JGR's No. 18 machine. But that return was marred by a cut right-front tire that sent Busch hard into the outside retaining wall 102 laps into the 202-lap race.

Rogers, who will be Busch's third different crew chief in the season's first four races, says Busch's driving style and setup preferences are very similar to Stewart's, which makes him an even stronger bet at Atlanta. Busch already has two pole positions and finishes of second and third in four career Nationwide Series starts at the 1.54-mile oval. Moreover, Busch is two-for-two in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition at Atlanta with victories in his only two appearances in 2005 and 2007.

Joining Busch and the JGR team for the first time this season are the employees and agents of the Farm Bureau Insurance Companies. Through their 4,200-member agency sales force, Farm Bureau Insurance provides auto, home and life insurance to customers and fans throughout the Southeast. Atlanta marks the first of six races where Farm Bureau Insurance takes to the track with JGR.

They, and a lot of other folks, are banking on Busch's chances for success this weekend at Atlanta.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 20 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota Camry at Atlanta:

Dave Rogers will be your third Nationwide Series crew chief in the first four races. Will it be difficult to work with yet another crew chief, or do you know you'll be fast with the equipment JGR gives you no matter what team you are with?

"I think if you have a good car and you're successful, it makes it easier no matter what crew chief I'm working with. Every team that I've been with this season, the guys have believed in me and I believe in what they can do. It sure makes it easier to have that understanding even before you jump behind the wheel. I'm really excited to get into the meat of the schedule now. I'm finally getting used to how everything works here at JGR and I feel like I'm back to a normal routine. The biggest thing is that I know every time I jump behind the wheel of any car here at JGR, I know I have a chance to win, including this weekend with the No. 20 guys and Farm Bureau Insurance. That's all a driver can really ask for."

Among your JGR teammates, who would you say your driving style is more similar to -- Tony Stewart or Denny Hamlin?

"My driving style is closer to Tony's style than it is to Denny's. We seem to like to run a looser-type setup. It's not that it's loose, but looking at Denny's car on paper, you wonder how he even turns through the corner. Then you look at mine and Tony's and Denny wonders how we even stay straight through the corner. It's just a difference in our preferences and how Tony and I like our car to respond as opposed to what Denny likes. It all comes down to what it takes for a driver to feel comfortable in a particular car. We are a unit, really. I feel like I should be able to help them and they should be able to help me. That's why we are teammates."

You've had some success at Atlanta with two wins in the Craftsman Truck Series, along with two top-five finishes and two poles in the Nationwide Series. Does that mean you're really looking forward to going back to Atlanta?

"Atlanta definitely doesn't have much grip, but I still seem to like it. There are so many lines. You can run anywhere on the track, and I love that. Coming off turn two, if you're running the low line and start to slide up, you have a tendency to get sideways. But otherwise, it's a really fun track. It's really a driver's track because when you get about 40 laps on your tires, you really start to slide around and that can be a handful."

Dave Rogers, crew chief for the No. 20 Farm Bureau Insurance Joe Gibbs Racing Team

You've had Tony Stewart in the No. 20 car for the three first races of the season and now you will have Kyle Busch behind the wheel of your car for the first time this weekend. How similar do you think Tony and Kyle's driving styles and preferences are?

"I think they are really similar and that the transition of working with Kyle at Atlanta will be pretty much seamless. When I debriefed with Jason Ratcliff (No. 18 JGR crew chief) at Las Vegas, the only difference I could tell on the two cars was the number on the doors. We talked after the practices last weekend, but both drivers ended up migrating in the same direction and both cars were strong during the race. I think Kyle and Tony want the same thing."

You've had some early success with Tony Stewart in the No. 20 car during the first three races of the season. How has that impacted you and the guys on the Nationwide Series program?

"I think this is the most fun a person could have, legally. It's been the time of our lives. We work so hard during the off-season at the JGR Nationwide Series shop. The guys have worked day in and day out, Saturday and Sunday. You work so hard and you're not sure if you're making progress, but you think you are. Then you unload at the race track and get back-to-back wins and run strong at Las Vegas before running into trouble. Then we go back to the shop during the week and see how excited the guys are there and they're chomping at the bit even more to work harder and be even better. It's been a lot of fun."

You have quite the driver lineup in the No. 20 car this season starting with Tony Stewart, now Kyle Busch, and eventually Denny Hamlin. This weekend at Atlanta, you'll get to work with Kyle for the first time. What are you expectations?

"In victory lane at California, I told Kyle that I expected victory lane at Atlanta and that there were no excuses not to bring home the hardware. As far as on-track performance, I expect the same. Our driver lineup this season is great. The intangible, in my opinion, is that we have three of the best drivers in the business and now they are all in the same car. They are all trying to outdo each other."

-credit: jgr

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Drivers Tony Stewart , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing