KYLE BUSCH Looking for a Z-Line Three-Peat at Fontana HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 18, 2009) -- Everyone enjoys a home-field advantage. Along those same lines, Z-Line Designs is 2-1 as a sponsor in NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Auto Club ...
KYLE BUSCH Looking for a Z-Line Three-Peat at Fontana
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 18, 2009) -- Everyone enjoys a home-field advantage.
Along those same lines, Z-Line Designs is 2-1 as a sponsor in NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
This weekend, Busch will look to continue Z-Line's winning ways as his team brings back the same car, Chassis No. 1861, which took him to victory last August at Fontana. In fact, Chassis No. 1861 is undefeated in its last three races, as Denny Hamlin won with it in September 2008 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Busch scored a victory with the car in November 2008 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Z-Line Designs/Frys.com NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry at Auto Club Speedway
How important is this race to Z-Line Designs?
"It's very important. Fontana is a big race for Z-Line Designs since it is a California-based company. We're excited to have them on board as a sponsor again in 2009, especially with what is going on with the economy. For Z-Line Designs to step up and have faith in us and give us a chance to run for the Nationwide Series title means a lot. We were able to take (company president) Jim Sexton and the Z-Line Designs crew to victory lane a lot in 2008, and we plan on doing it again in 2009."
How has Auto Club Speedway changed over the last few years, going from a new track to a place that has a lot more character and more racing grooves?
"It's just a fun place to race. Its wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom. That said, the place is tough. It's really a hard racetrack to get hold of now, especially when it's hot and the sun is out. There are two completely different types of racing when you run the top versus the bottom groove. You can run from the top to the bottom, but when you run the bottom, you really feel like you're puttering around the racetrack. You feel like you aren't making up any time on the bottom, but when you're running the top groove, you feel like you're getting the job done. The guys who run the bottom have a little bit more patience and handle it better than the guys who are on the gas on top."
You're from the western part of the United States. Do you enjoy traveling out there and do you feel more comfortable going to that part of the country since that's where you grew up?
"Everybody hates the time change. I use that to my advantage since I think I'm usually on West Coast time, anyway. I still haven't gotten East Coast time down, yet. It's fun for me. It's a cool atmosphere and the weather is great without the humidity. If it's hot out, it's nice and warm, so the heat at Fontana doesn't bother me as much as other places. And if it's cold, it's a crisp cold. It's still home and I love being out west, and I really feel at home any time we race out there."
One race down, 34 to go in your quest for a Nationwide Series title. Do you feel like you're off to a good start?
"We had a chance to win in Daytona, but just couldn't get past Tony (Stewart) on the last lap. Obviously, I want to win. But from a points perspective, it was a good week because we didn't get in a hole early. We need another strong week this week to continue to build up points as we look toward the championship race."
Chassis No. 1861: This car has a long history of competition for JGR, including victories in its last three 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 Kyle 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 International Speedway, 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 last time the car saw action it again found victory lane, with Busch leading 174 of 200 laps to win at Texas Motor Speedway in November 2008.