KYLE BUSCH 1861 Looks To Be Part of Winning 'Combo' at Dover HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 12, 2010) -- On the same afternoon that Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver goes for the second leg of the 2010 Triple Crown just across the Chesapeake Bay, it's...
1861 Looks To Be Part of Winning 'Combo' at Dover
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 12, 2010) -- On the same afternoon that Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver goes for the second leg of the 2010 Triple Crown just across the Chesapeake Bay, it's fitting that jockey -- err, racecar driver -- Kyle Busch chases after his fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season in a bonafide workhorse of a racecar at a track that doubles as a harness racing facility.
It's arguably the winningest Nationwide Series "Combo" in recent years, to say the least. Busch and Chassis No. 1861, which for Saturday's Heluva Good! 200 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway will wear the colors of the No. 18 Combos Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), have been victorious in five of their last seven races together dating back to August 2008, when the car broke its maiden with its first win in dominating fashion with Busch behind the wheel at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Busch and good old No. 1861 won their next outing together at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth the following November, made it to victory lane twice more during the Las Vegas native's Nationwide Series championship run of 2009 -- at Fontana in February and at Texas in April -- and then returned to their winning ways again at Fontana this past February in the car's most recent outing. Add JGR teammate Denny Hamlin's victory in No. 1861 back in September 2008, and the venerable workhorse, which will be making its 14th career start on Saturday, has won six times in its last eight races.
The only blemishes for No. 1861 in the recent eight-race stretch have been a second-place run by Busch to JGR teammate Joey Logano at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta last June, and an aborted run by Busch thanks to flu-like symptoms suffered during last fall's race at Fontana when Hamlin took over and was involved in a late-race multi-car accident.
Busch and sponsor Combos have also proven to be quite the winning combination in their history together that started at the very same high-banked concrete mile oval at Dover that they'll be racing on this weekend. Busch and Combos are three-for-four, with just a second-place finish in June 2009 in the Nationwide Series race at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., serving as the only "loss." In June 2008, Busch drove the No. 18 Combos Toyota Camry to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Dover, leading 158 of 400 laps along the way. Last May, Busch and Combos did it again in the Sprint Cup race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. And then, last month at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., Busch and Combos collaborated for a Nationwide Series win, leading a race-high 126 of 200 laps on the mile oval in the desert.
Saturday's race marks the first at Dover for Chassis No. 1861. But the 25-year-old driver's history and experience at "The Monster Mile," which includes three wins, nine top-fives and 1,151 laps led in 26 starts across NASCAR's top-three series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck) certainly makes it a good bet that driver and chassis can hook up as a winning "Combo" yet again.
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Combos NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
You and Chassis No. 1861 have been quite the winning "Combo" the last three years, and you're also three-for-four with your sponsor Combos. Should we suppose that bodes well for your outlook at Dover on Saturday?
"The orange Combos colors have been good luck, thus far, to say the least. We did it again together at Phoenix in the Nationwide race last month. Hopefully, we can keep it going this weekend at Dover. You can never guarantee a win in the Nationwide Series or any other series, for that matter. The Penske guys and (Kevin) Harvick's guys are really on their game, as they have been all season. We had a really good night for JGR with our 1-2 finish last weekend at Darlington. But we just have to keep our eyes on who we need to beat. I'm excited, once again, to have Combos, which is a part of the Mars family of companies, on board with us for the second of three times this year. They've been really great supporters. We were able to bring them a win a couple of years ago at Dover and last year at Richmond (both in the Sprint Cup Series). We kept it going in Phoenix in the Nationwide Series so hope it brings us more luck this weekend."
You've had a lot of success on concrete racetracks. Why is that?
"I've always seemed to run well at the concrete tracks. I'm not sure what the secret is, but we've been able to have success at all three concrete tracks that NASCAR runs on. When there isn't a whole lot of rubber on the track, it can get slick. But once the rubber gets onto the track in practice, it gets a lot better."
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Combos NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
You've managed to win in all three of NASCAR's top-three divisions at Dover, meaning you have three trophies from Dover. Where are they located?
"Sitting in my trophy room. I've got all three trophies, one from each race. I won the Truck one before it became the Monster trophy. And I do have a small Monster (Nationwide) and a big Monster (Sprint Cup). Whether you want to call it big-brother-little-brother, or father-and-son, they're sitting next to each other. That trophy is a pretty cool trophy. It's really neat to win that thing. The hand (on the Sprint Cup trophy) can hold a real die-cast, and you know that's pretty cool. I got the die-cast with the car that I won there with in it"
Chassis No. 1861: This car has a long history of competition for JGR, including six wins in its last eight outings. Chassis No. 1861 saw its first race action in June 2007 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta with Brad Coleman finishing a career-best second. The car returned to action in August 2007 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where Coleman finished 15th. Former JGR driver Tony Stewart drove this car to a seventh-place finish in November 2007 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth after leading a race-high 114 laps. Despite Stewart's dominance that day, contact midway through the race with lapped traffic hurt the car's aerodynamics and cost him a chance at victory. Chassis No. 1861 made its next start in March 2008 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Busch at the controls. He led 18 laps before a cut right-front tire and subsequent accident ended his day, resulting in a 31st-place finish. Next, the car attempted to make the race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May 2008, but Denny Hamlin wrecked it during qualifying and the No. 18 team did not participate in the event. JGR rebuilt the car in time for an August 2008 run at Michigan, where Joey Logano started sixth and brought home a solid seventh-place finish. In August 2008, Busch used Chassis No. 1861 to lead three times for a race-high 144 laps en route to victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. In September 2008, Hamlin drove this car at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, where he started 19th and won the race after leading a race-high 99 laps. The car continued its winning ways in its next appearance, with Busch leading 174 of 200 laps to win in November 2008 at Texas. Busch drove the car four times in 2009, scoring victories in February at Fontana, where he started second and won after leading 143 of 150 laps, and again in April at Texas, where he started from the pole and led 178 of 200 laps. At Kentucky in June, Busch led 162 of 200 laps but finished second to teammate Logano. Chassis No. 1861 was used for the final time in 2009 at Fontana in October, when Busch started second and led the first 38 laps before flu-like symptoms forced him to exit the No. 18 on lap 39 of the 152-lap race. JGR teammate, Hamlin, filled in for Busch and led 28 laps before getting caught up in an accident late in the race and finishing a disappointing 31st. Busch returned to Fontana with the car this past February. He started second and led just four laps, but won the Stater Brothers 300.