Bristol: Kyle Busch preview

KYLE BUSCH A Bit of a Different Line HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 17, 2010) - With six victories in NASCAR's top-three divisions at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch has had plenty of success at the .533-mile concrete oval. The driver of...

A Bit of a Different Line

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 17, 2010) - With six victories in NASCAR's top-three divisions at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch has had plenty of success at the .533-mile concrete oval.

The driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has scored three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins (March 2007, March 2009 and August 2009), one NASCAR Nationwide Series victory (March 2006) and two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series triumphs (August 2008 and August 2009) at Bristol.

Busch's March 2007 Sprint Cup win and his March 2006 Nationwide Series victory came on Bristol's old concrete surface, which was replaced in the summer of 2007. Bristol officials put down a fresh layer of concrete, and as part of the refurbishment, an additional four feet of width was added to the racing groove.

This past February, track officials announced the addition of more than 160 feet of SAFER Barrier at the exits of turns two and four, hoping to increase driver safety. But the changes also will create a different transition at the exit of the turns and, while no one knows exactly how the racing will be impacted, the bottom line is there is less racetrack to use than before. And less racetrack means there will most likely be slight changes in driving styles, car set-ups and strategy.

Busch's Bristol resume demonstrates that he was good on the old and new configurations, and there's little doubt he will figure out the latest racing line once the Z-Line Designs team unloads their No. 18 Toyota Camry for Saturday's Scotts Turf Builder 300 Nationwide Series race.

While Busch will try to figure out the new groove at Bristol, he will also search for his second Nationwide Series victory of the season after scoring his first last month at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. That win was extra special as it came in the home state of Z-Line Designs, which is based in San Ramon, Calif.

Can Busch take Z-Line Designs to its second victory lane of 2010? If the past is any indication, Busch should have no trouble adapting to a bit of a different line in his attempt to do so.

Kyle Busch, No. 18 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry

What do you think of the new SAFER Barrier at Bristol Motor Speedway that narrowed the racing surface?

"I like all the room you can get at some of these racetracks, so that's going to make it tough. They did it for the excitement of the racetrack and to try and put some bumping and grinding back into that place. It's going to slow the pace up, probably a little bit, because we know we don't have as much on the exits to use up. Maybe it will make for better racing. I'm hoping so."

All races on the Nationwide Series schedule are tough, but what makes Bristol so challenging?

"Anything can happen there and you can get caught up in somebody else's wreck. Things happen so fast there that, sometimes, you don't have anywhere to go. It's not like the big tracks, where you might have the apron or the grass to avoid an accident. You just try to get in a rhythm, avoid the wrecks and put yourself in position to win at the end."

Jason Ratcliff, crew chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry

Will the changes at Bristol affect your set-up at all?

"We're thinking about it. Potentially, it could change some things. We've got a basic game plan, put together based off assumption, obviously. Other than that, we're going to unload there like we normally do and work off of that."

You've had some success at Bristol in the past, but have not been able to get to victory lane with Kyle Busch. How important is a win there for the Z-Line Designs team?

"We feel like we've had the car to do it and Kyle's driving really well. I feel like we've either given some away or had some taken away by something out of our control. It's one of those tracks that everybody wants to win at because it's so tough. It's almost a survival deal. You know that if you win that race, it's more than just having a good race car. You had to overcome a lot of adversity throughout the day, whether it be on pit road or the racetrack. One little mistake from a guy running 35th can take you out, even if you're in the top-five. It's a tough place. It's a big place to win. We feel like we've got what it takes and it's high on our list, for sure."

Are you happy with the start of the season, thus far?

"We would have liked to have run better at Vegas. We had a really good car in practice. For whatever reason, whether the track cooled off or what, at the beginning of the race, I didn't feel like we were where we needed to be. I'm not going to say I didn't make the right adjustments but, for some reason, I couldn't make enough adjustments to get the car where we needed it to be in the race. I was disappointed in that because I felt we had a good car going into the race. California, I was pleased with. We weren't the car to beat all day, but we made good adjustments and I feel like I know where we missed it. We left there with a win. It was a good run and we left there knowing what we need to do to get better. At this point, I'm fairly happy with it. I wish we would have run better at Vegas but, all in all, I think we are where we need to be at this point in the season. We need to step it up a little bit to stay ahead of the competition but, all in all, not a bad start."

The Car

Chassis No. 1884: This car's first start came in July 2008 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., where Busch started 10th and led 101 of 200 laps en route to victory in the Dollar General 300. The car was not used again until March 2009 at Bristol, where Busch started fourth and led 156 of 300 laps en route to a sixth-place finish. The next start for Chassis 1884 came in May 2009 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, where Busch started third, led 108 of 200 laps but finished a disappointing 17th. The car was not used again until August at Bristol, when Busch started 15th and finished 28th after being involved in an accident not of his making. The last time Chassis 1884 saw action was in September at Dover, when Busch won the pole and led 109 laps on his way to a fourth-place result.

-source: jgr

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Drivers Kyle Busch