KYLE BUSCH Shooting for North American Road Course Trifecta in Montreal HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 25, 2009) -- It all started for Kyle Busch in March 2008 with a Mexican hat dance in victory lane at the legendary Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road...
Shooting for North American Road Course Trifecta in Montreal
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 25, 2009) -- It all started for Kyle Busch in March 2008 with a Mexican hat dance in victory lane at the legendary Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in downtown Mexico City. He then blasted through a few more road courses with thoroughly dominating victories in the rich, wine-growing regions of Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y. Now, Busch heads northward to Canada for Sunday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Montreal.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), looks to add his third North American country to his road course victory list over the past two seasons when he makes his first career appearance at another legendary Formula 1 circuit -- Montreal's 2.708-mile, 15-turn Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. If his ability to master this one is anything like his performance at the former home of the Mexican F1 Grand Prix back in March 2008, Busch just might be hoisting another magnum of champagne come Sunday afternoon.
And that would be a sight to behold for the Canadian dealers and distributors of Interstate Batteries who, for the first time in 18 years of the company's sponsorship of JGR, will get to root for the familiar, green No. 18 Interstate Batteries machine on their home soil.
After going winless in his first three seasons of running NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars on road courses, Busch burst the floodgates wide-open last year and immediately elevated his status as a driver to beat on tracks that turn both left and right. In his four road course appearances of 2008, Busch won three of them and finished a close second in the other. He led twice for 22 laps en route to his first career road course win in the Nationwide Series race at Mexico City. He backed that up by sweeping both 2008 Sprint Cup road course outings at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma and Watkins Glen International, leading 130 of 202 laps in the process. For good measure, Busch led another 12 laps and posted a strong runner-up finish to Marcos Ambrose in last year's Nationwide race at Watkins Glen.
This year, while Busch was shut out of victory lane in the road course events at Infineon and Watkins Glen, he was very much a threat at all three. In June, he qualified on the front row and led 10 laps early at Infineon before a couple of on-track incidents took him out of contention. In the Nationwide-Sprint Cup road course doubleheader at Watkins Glen three weekends ago, Busch led a combined 30 laps while finishing runner-up to a determined Ambrose in the Nationwide race and a solid fourth in the rain-delayed Sprint Cup race.
With six Nationwide Series wins already this season and a hefty 248-point lead in the championship standings over second-place Carl Edwards, Busch will have a rare treat as he tries to learn Montreal's historic F1 circuit in relatively short order, for Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Chicago will be behind him, and there is no added Sprint Cup duty to worry about. Considering his recent road course success, that stands to only help the odds of Busch completing his own, personal North American road course trifecta.
Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
This must be a special weekend for you in a number of respects, particularly being that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a legendary Formula 1 track that you'll be racing on for the first time. What are your thoughts as you prepare to head north to Canada?
"First of all, I'm proud to be representing Interstate Batteries' distributors and dealers in Canada for the first time on their home soil. After years of those guys having to come to the States to see us race, we're glad we can finally bring the show to them. As for the track, I watched the race closely the last couple of years and know there are some long straightaways and some tight, hairpin-type corners. For sure, it's going to be at tricky place. For me to get used to it and understand it, hopefully I can go to guys like Ron Fellows and Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve and try to get some help about how to get around the place a little bit better."
For once, you have just this one race to concentrate on while you're in Montreal this weekend. Will it feel a little strange not running a Sprint Cup and also maybe a Camping World Truck Series race while you're there, as well?
"It's actually fun to do that. I like racing. I love racing all the time. Being inside a racecar is where my home is. But to go up there and try to run well and to have my sole focus on this one event while I'm there will be nice. It looks like it's a great atmosphere. The fans are awesome, from what I hear, so I'm looking forward to that. There's great city life in Montreal, so I'm looking forward to maybe enjoying some of that. I got a quick taste of it when I did some media just before our race at Watkins Glen, so the race weekend will be my first real experience in Canada."
Talk about your rivalry with Carl Edwards, who you are leading by a pretty substantial margin in the point standings.
"The thing with Carl and I, that's our rivalry, for the Nationwide Series championship. He's a good guy. We talk somewhat off the track and everything. We're fighting for a championship right now in the Nationwide Series. He'd love to get it, I'd love to get it. He's got one, I don't have one. So, we're trying to beat him. We'll be heading up to Montreal still pretty fresh off Watkins Glen, so it'll be a good time to go up there and maybe gain some ground on the road course there. He's been there before, but maybe we can be a little bit better."
Chassis No. 1864: Sunday's race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be the third outing for Chassis No. 1864. It made its Nationwide Series debut at Watkins Glen International in 2007 when Brad Coleman qualified 12th and finished a solid fifth. The car's last start was three weeks ago at Watkins Glen, where Busch qualified seventh, led 15 laps, and finished second after a late-race duel with Marcos Ambrose.