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Kyle Busch: Hoping to be a ‘Contender’ at Dover

September 23rd, 2014 by
Kyle Busch will take on the Monster Mile at Dover on Sunday in the Interstate Batteries Toyota. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

Kyle Busch will take on the Monster Mile at Dover on Sunday in the Interstate Batteries Toyota. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

With two races completed in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, one thing is for certain: Kyle Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the entire Interstate Batteries team have been Outrageously Dependable® in the face of adversity.

Kyle Busch has two wins at Dover International Speedway. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Kyle Busch has two wins at Dover International Speedway. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

So it’s only appropriate as the Sprint Cup competitors head to the third Chase race – Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway – that Busch will have the Outrageously Dependable colors of Interstate Batteries along for the ride on his No. 18 Toyota.

In both the Chase opener two weekends ago at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, and the second Chase race last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Busch and team fell behind, only to rally for top-10 finishes that have them fifth in the standings heading to the concrete mile oval at Dover this weekend.

In particular, Busch and his team showed their championship resolve last weekend at New Hampshire. After suffering heavy damage from a lap-187 accident, they never gave up, executing several pit stops over the final 100 laps to get Busch’s Camry in good enough shape to make it to the end. Not only did they make it, but the Las Vegas native made several spectacular three- and four-wide passes on the outside to vault himself from 20th to an eighth-place finish over the final seven circuits.

While satisfied with his solid start to the Chase, Busch will head to Dover – statistically one of his better tracks – in hopes of scoring a win, and thus an automatic bid to the Contender round as one of the final 12 drivers left in NASCAR’s playoffs.

The Dover stats for Busch and his Interstate Batteries team are impressive – two Sprint Cup wins, four NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins.Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

But this weekend, Busch will try to keep the early Chase momentum going by shooting for his sixth top-10 finish in his last eight events at the racetrack known as the “Monster Mile.” Busch has led an impressive 1,011 laps in his previous 19 starts at Dover. Even more impressive is that, while wins have eluded Busch in the past three Sprint Cup races there, he has led 533 of a possible 1,200 laps completed in those races.

So as Busch and his Interstate Batteries team look to move on to the next round of the Chase, they will look to build on strong recent runs at Dover in hopes of closing the deal with their green-and-white-striped Interstate Batteries Camry Sunday afternoon on the Delmarva Peninsula. Not only does he want to be a contender during Sunday’s race, but also in the Contender round following Sunday’s 400-miler.

 KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

 Is this the kind of start in the Chase you were hoping for?

 “I’ve said it for years – if I could finish second in every single Chase race, I’d take it and win a championship over winning a single Chase race that doesn’t mean as much as a championship would. Now I think that still applies to this new system somewhat, but as the rounds go on and guys get eliminated, you’re likely going to have to win to get yourself to Homestead and have a shot at the championship. It’s all about the prize at the end. It’s only two races, and you would always strive to be better if you aren’t in victory lane, but we’ve done exactly what we’ve needed to start off the Chase. This team showed a lot of fight last week and will keep working hard each week and hope we can keep advancing and be in the hunt toward the end. Hoping we can continue that this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Camry.”

What does it take to be successful at Dover?

“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging. They’re all a challenge, but Dover is especially so, just because of the way you have to run around that place. The way tires sometimes wear out. The way the rubber gets put down there. You’ve got to be fast through the corner. Two-thirds of your lap time is through the turn rather than down the straightaway, so you definitely have to make sure you have a good-handling racecar – one that’s good in the beginning of the run on low air pressures and one that’s good at the end of the run on high air pressures, and even through traffic, too. Some of the most challenging times are when you’re trying to get through traffic with guys.”

Do you enjoy racing at Dover?

 “It’s definitely a fast racetrack. It’s a fun racetrack, too. It makes it interesting when you get to traffic, when you have to pass guys, when you’re kind of falling down into the hole and jumping back up out of the hole to the straightaways. It’s a good place to race. It’s a competitive racetrack and, when the rubber gets laid down, it definitely changes the whole atmosphere and the whole way you run around that place.”

Kyle Busch wants to tame the Monster yet again. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Kyle Busch wants to tame the Monster yet again. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Does going from concrete to asphalt change the way the car handles?

 “We don’t run on an asphalt racetrack that’s banked like that or shaped like that. The mile tracks we go to that are asphalt are Phoenix and Loudon, and they are relatively flat. The concrete just changes the feel a little bit, of course, and changes the way you approach the racetrack, too.”

You have two Sprint Cup wins and a competitive history at Dover. What is your outlook with your history there?

“I love that place. It’s fun to race there and it’s a place I’m looking forward to going to with our Interstate Batteries Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Nationwide Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at that racetrack and, for it to be a mile in length and for it to be concrete – concrete surfaces that we race on, anyway, are a little bit slick. It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, I think, because you can get so much out of that place. There are two ways about it – you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days you’re going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”

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Team Interstate: Bruised, Banged up — but not Beaten

September 22nd, 2014 by

To some, Team Interstate suffered a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day in New Hampshire. All three drivers were involved in significant accidents over the course of Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

But the optimist would say this was the kind of day where championship teams are made.

Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries team overcame a lap-187 accident to finish eighth, despite significant damage.

“We kept working on our M&M’s Camry, kept fighting and put fresh tires on it every chance we could get, and we came back for a really good finish all things considered – and how bad it could have been,” said Kyle, who earned his 11th top-10 finish of the season. “It still shows what our team is made of, so I’m proud of the effort.”

 

Misfortune also struck teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. Matt was caught up in an accident with only 30 laps to go and didn’t have time to execute a similar late-race charge back to a top 10. He would finish 21st. Denny was extremely fast through the early portion of the race, but a mechanical failure in the fuel apparatus put him several laps down, and an accident followed that sent him to the garage for repairs, leaving him to finish the day back in 37th.

 

Joey Logano won the Sylvania 300.

Kyle, Matt and Denny currently sit fifth, eighth and 13th in the point standings. The top 12 will advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after next Sunday’s race at Dover. Only 12 points currently separate eighth place from 16th, with Denny just six points out of 12th – so the next round is still very much within reach.

Team Interstate Results, New Hampshire II

 

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Kentucky Speedway

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

This Week

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series: Dover International Speedway (Kyle Busch drives the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota!)
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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Team Interstate Begins Chase With Three Top 10s

September 15th, 2014 by

 

Team Interstate's Kyle Busch led Sunday's race early. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch led Sunday’s race early. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

Team Interstate found its speed and opened the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format in impressive fashion with three top-10 finishes in Sunday’s Myafibstory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

No. 18 Crew Member Jamie Price works on Kyle's car during practice. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

No. 18 Crew Member Jamie Price works on Kyle’s car during practice. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

Denny Hamlin finished sixth, Kyle Busch seventh and Matt Kenseth 10th at the 1.5-mile oval.

“We were superfast early, superfast when the track was green and we were out front and we could run second or third and didn’t have a gaggle of cars around you,” said Kyle, who started his No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries Toyota from the pole position.

A pit-road incident on lap 148 left Kyle with a small hole in the left-rear corner of the No. 18 Toyota, dramatically affecting the handling. An opportune caution flag waved on lap 257, and Crew Chief Dave Rogers ordered Kyle down pit road for four fresh tires and a quick patch of the hole. With just six laps to go, Kyle restarted 14th but muscled his way forward thanks to the changes.

Brad Keselowski won the race, his fifth of the year.

Chicagoland results for Team Interstate

 

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Chicagoland Speedway

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Chicagoland Speedway

Kyle won the Lucas Oil 225, driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

This Week

  • NASCAR’s Camping World Truck and Sprint Cup Series: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • NASCAR Nationwide Series: Kentucky Speedway

 

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Outrageously Dependable Customer Service: Jeremy Casey

September 10th, 2014 by

At Interstate Batteries, we care about making powerful connections whether it’s hooking a battery to your starter or delivering some of the most memorable customer service experiences you’ve ever had.

Interstate All Battery Center's Jeremy Casey is making his mark in the Orlando area.

Interstate All Battery Center’s Jeremy Casey is making his mark in the Orlando area.

Enter Store Associate Jeremy Casey from the Interstate All Battery Center® in Oviedo, Fla. This customer service powerhouse is making his mark in the Orlando area.

 Overpowering That Run-down Feeling

The ingredients for a bad mood can range widely, from battery trouble to hungry, whining children. Any errand that combines both is a recipe for grumpy.

When Oveido resident Denise Eaton arrived at the Interstate All Battery Center, she was already in a rough mood from three tired tykes and a car battery giving her sass.

Fortunately, Jeremy was on the case, treating Denise’s battery troubles while improving her down day. He came out with a pleasant attitude, using “yes, ma’am,” “no, ma’am,” and being generally kind and funny to turn her own frown upside-down.

Denise called Interstate’s customer service to say how impressed she was with Jeremy’s upbeat attitude and kindness. She’s told all her friends, and now her family goes to Interstate All Battery Center for all their battery needs.

She even tried to tip Jeremy for his help, and like a gentlemen, Jeremy said they don’t take tips for just doing their job. That’s a true servant’s heart.

 

Power of a Cheerful Helper

People know and trust Interstate Batteries – especially when they’re in a tough spot. That’s how Jeremy became a hero to Oveido resident Tammy Walker.

Tammy had just finished refueling when her car wouldn’t start. The late Friday afternoon meant most places that would help her were closing – and the rain wasn’t helping matters. That’s when she saw a young man stepping out of the gas station in an Interstate All Battery Center shirt.

Even though the Interstate All Battery Center had already closed, Jeremy was ready to lend a hand. He came over and lifted the hood up. Tammy said he was polite, kind, and funny when talking to her, using a characteristic “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” He tightened the loose negative cable and cleaned the corrosion off. Then he started the car right up.

Taking extra precautions, Jeremy asked Tammy to bring her car to the Interstate All Battery Center in the next day so he could test it and be sure the battery was good. Sure enough, the battery tests indicated everything was fine.

Tammy called Interstate’s customer service to share her experience, saying that what really impressed her was that he wouldn’t take any money for his efforts. Even her husband had asked if Jeremy tried to sell something. Tammy said he didn’t even try.

Instead, with a combo of servant’s heart and excellence, Jeremy won their loyalty. Tammy said they will be dedicated customers from now on.

Power to Serve

Everyone’s story is different. The constant in these two is how Jeremy consistently enriches lives as he delivers the most trustworthy source of power to the world.

In case you haven’t heard, that’s our purpose. And Jeremy is one shining example of team members living it out in your communities.

That’s why Jeremy recently received a special recognition for living out Interstate’s purpose and values.

“Thank you for all the appreciation that I have received. I am very grateful,” Jeremy said. “I feel very blessed.”

Actually, Jeremy, thank you.

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Team Interstate: Bring On The Chase

September 8th, 2014 by
Kyle Busch led Team Interstate Saturday night with a 14th-place finish.

Kyle Busch led Team Interstate Saturday night with a 14th-place finish.

Team Interstate didn’t have the results it had hoped for in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, but all three drivers are in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. And that’s what really matters.

Kyle Busch struggled with a loose-handling racecar for much of the night. Crew Chief Dave Rogers and the No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries team tried a series of adjustments throughout the course of the race, but nothing seemed to fix the handling issues, resulting in a 14th-place finish.

From left: Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Toyota's Ed Laukes, Kyle Busch and Toyota's David Wilson. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

From left: Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Toyota’s Ed Laukes, Kyle Busch and Toyota’s David Wilson. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

“We struggled a bit tonight, but we struggled as a company as well,” Kyle said. “Richmond is normally a place that we like coming to that we run well at, and tonight it just wasn’t it.”

Teammate Denny Hamlin started strong, running seventh at the 100-lap mark. But his No. 11 Camry’s handling got away from him, and he ultimately fell a lap down to the leader and finished 21st.

Matt Kenseth was fast early as well, but made contact with the wall on lap 122. He brought his No. 20 Camry into the garage for repairs to the suspension and returned to the track 67 laps down. He finished 41st.

Brad Keselowski won the race.

“Tonight’s over, and now we move on to the Chase, and we look forward to that,” Kyle said. “I felt like we had a good test at Chicago a few weeks ago, (and) we ran well earlier this year at Loudon (New Hampshire), so those two first ones coming up in the Chase. The guys are working hard – I can’t say enough about my M&M’s guys , all the 20 team, the 11  team – they’re all putting in the hours and doing everything they can it’s just we’re not reaping the benefits of that yet.  There’s still 10 more weeks to go and we hope we can.”

Richmond Results for Team Interstate

The Chase Begins

The Chase Grid

Now, it’s on to the Chase, NASCAR’s version of playoffs. NASCAR introduced a new format to the Chase this season, featuring 16 drivers and 10 races. Here’s how it works:

  • Positions 1-13 on the Chase field were determined by the drivers with the greatest number of wins after the first 26 races. Positions 14-16 went to the drivers who, while winless during the regular season, were the highest in points. Kyle qualified by virtue of his win in March at Auto Club Speedway. Denny qualified by winning at Talladega in May, and Matt qualified on points.
  • NASCAR recalibrated the points for the 16 Chase drivers, with each getting 2,000 points. Drivers also received three bonus points for each of their respective wins.
  • The first round is called the “Challenger Round,” and it consists of races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire and Dover. After Dover, four drivers are eliminated from contention. Any Chase driver who wins one of those three races automatically advances to the next round, and points decide the rest of the 12-driver field.
  • In the second round, or “Contender Round,” the 12 drivers’ points are reset to 3,000. They race at Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega.  After Talladega, four more drivers are eliminated. Like before, if an eligible driver wins one of these three races, he advances to the next round, called the “Eliminator.”
  • In the Eliminator Round, the final eight drivers’ points are reset to 4,000, and they compete at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix. After Phoenix, four more are eliminated. Once again, if you’re eligible and you win, you advance.
  • The Championship Round will consist of one race with four drivers having an equal chance at the championship. The first of the four to finish wins the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

Better yet, let the drivers explain:

http://youtu.be/G-7exGzbY4k

Nationwide Series

Richmond

 

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Team Interstate: Action-Packed Atlanta

September 2nd, 2014 by
Team Interstate's Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth took turns at the front of the field Sunday night. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Team Interstate’s Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth took turns at the front of the field Sunday night. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

The weather was hot, and so were the tempers at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night. When the Oral-B USA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was over, Team Interstate claimed two top-five finishes and one hard-fought 16th-place result.

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, led the way with a second-place finish. It was his 10th top-five of the season. Although he has yet to win a race this year, he qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship on points.

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, finished third. Both the 11 and 20 pit crews turned lightning-quick pit stops throughout the evening to give their drivers great track position.

Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch, meanwhile, overcame numerous obstacles to finish 16th.

“This isn’t the kind of night we needed,” he said. “We were all over the place with handling, and the car just would not go in traffic.”

Kyle was involved in two accidents Saturday night, the first when he slid through oil put down by the expiring engine of the No. 9 car. That slide caused him to clip the front end of the No. 14 car and make contact with the outside wall. With just a couple laps to go in the race, Kyle got into the back of the No. 78 car, causing more significant damage.

Kasey Kahne won the race.

ATL-results

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Atlanta

 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

This Week

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Team Interstate: Bristol Brings More Bad Luck

August 25th, 2014 by
Team Interstate's Kyle Busch in happier times -- at the beginning of Saturday night's Bristol race. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch in happier times — at the beginning of Saturday night’s Bristol race. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

When Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch took the lead on lap 55 of Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, it looked as if the five-time Bristol winner might have a great chance to add to his stellar record at the .533-mile bullring.

Team Interstate's Kyle Busch (left) and Denny Hamlin both had a rough night at Bristol. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch (left) and Denny Hamlin both had a rough night at Bristol. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

However, the driver of the No. 18 Doublemint/Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing suffered a lap-64 pit road speeding penalty that relegated him to deep in the field. On lap 127 things got even worse as Kyle was caught up in an accident ahead of him and got spun from behind, causing significant damage to his racecar. Kyle rode five laps down for much of the race, then retired from the event with a broken right-front suspension with 50 laps remaining, resulting in a 36th-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

“It was a very frustrating night,” said Kyle, who has five career Sprint Cup wins at Bristol.

Matt Kenseth fared the best of the three Team Interstate drivers Saturday. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Matt Kenseth fared the best of the three Team Interstate drivers Saturday. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Teammate Denny Hamlin also saw a promising night go south. He took the lead in his No. 11 Toyota on lap 137 and looked stout until lap 160 when the 4 car attempted to slide up the track behind him. Instead, the 4 car caught the left rear of Denny’s Camry, causing him to spin down into the inside wall. The contact caused him to ricochet back up the track and into the path of the 88. The result was heavy damage and a disappointing 40th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth largely stayed out of trouble and finished third in his No. 20 Toyota Camry.

Joey Logano won the race.

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Bristol

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Bristol

welcom-edwards-suarez-arris

Team Interstate Expands for 2015

Last week, Joe Gibbs Racing announced two major additions to the Team Interstate family beginning next season:

  • Carl Edwards No. 19 Joe Gibbs RacingCarl Edwards joins the team in a fourth car in the Sprint Cup Series and will drive the No. 19 Toyota Camry with lead sponsorship from ARRIS, a global innovator in IP, video and broadband technology.
  • Daniel Suarez will drive full-time in the Nationwide Series with ARRIS sponsorship.

ARRIS will also play a major role in JGR’s diversity and driver development initiatives.

Read more about the announcements here, and watch the video from Coach Joe Gibbs below:

Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series

Tooele, UT

  • No. 10 – Justin Brayton – 10th
  • No. 33 – Josh Grant – 12th

Final season standings:

  • Justin Brayton – 13th
  • Josh Grant – 8th
  • Phil Nicoletti – 15th

Read more (JGRMX.com)

This Week

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series: Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

 

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Team Interstate: Rough Michigan – Again

August 17th, 2014 by
Kyle Busch drives his banged-up Interstate Batteries Camry at Michigan. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Kyle Busch drives his banged-up Interstate Batteries Camry at Michigan. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

For the third week in a row, Kyle Busch suffered misfortune of major proportions.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing made contact with the outside SAFER Barrier in turn four on just the fourth lap of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. After spending significant time in the garage for repairs to the right side of his racecar, Busch returned to the track on lap 28. The accident and time in the garage resulted in a disappointing 39th-place finish.

“I felt so good about my car those first few laps running the bottom, but then I was getting hung out on the straightaways,” said Kyle, who won the 2011 Pure Michigan 400. “Then I just tried going to the top in (turns) three and four right away, and I got loose all the way through three and four. Every time I touched the gas it wanted to spin out, and finally it was too much gas and not enough save, and I wrecked. I just hate it for these Interstate Batteries guys. I was really optimistic about our car there in the opening laps, and we didn’t get to see what we were capable of.”

  While the accident caused him to finish the race 41 laps down, there was a piece of good news for Kyle and the Interstate Batteries team as he clinched his spot in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, assuming that he attempts to qualify for the final three races before the Chase Grid is set. Kyle’s Team Interstate companions – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished seventh and 38th, respectively. Jeff Gordon won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his 91st career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan.

 

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Mid-Ohio

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Michigan

Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series

Crawfordsville, Tenn.

  • No. 10 – Justin Brayton – Withdrew after accident
  • No. 33 – Josh Grant – 8th

Recap (JGRMX.com)

This Week

  • Joe Gibbs Racing will make a major announcement Tuesday
  • NASCAR: Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Motocross: Miller Motor Sports Park, Toole, Utah

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Kyle Busch: Looking for Luck in the Irish Hills

August 12th, 2014 by
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

During the 19th century, the Irish Hills area of Michigan – located near U.S. 12 just about halfway between Detroit and Chicago – was a well-known stopping point during the five-day stagecoach trip between the two large Midwest cities.

At the turn of the century, the Irish Hills turned into an enjoyable tourist destination with its plush, green landscape and more than 30 lakes for vacationers and residents to enjoy in peace and quiet.

For the last several decades, the Irish Hills come to life two weekends per year and become anything but peaceful and quiet when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for the state’s largest sporting events.

Kyle Busch returns to the track in his green-and-white striped Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Kyle Busch returns to the track in his green-and-white striped Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, hopes his colorful green-and-white-striped paint scheme brings a little bit of good fortune his way during his stopover in the Irish Hills for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

Busch won the Pure Michigan 400 in August 2011 for his first Sprint Cup triumph at the 2-mile oval. However, the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season and, while he scored a solid fourth-place finish on the surface in June 2013, he has had three finishes of 30th or worse in the other four races contested on the fresh pavement. This weekend, Busch looks to overcome that recent string of bad luck at Michigan and turn his fortunes around on the blazing fast oval.

One day prior to Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, Busch will achieve a milestone 500th start in a Toyota racing vehicle when he takes the green flag for Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the track. In his 499 career starts driving Toyota equipment among NASCAR’s top three series, Busch has scored 114 wins.

So, as Busch and the Interstate Batteries team head to the Midwest this weekend, they’ll hope to luck of the Irish is on their side and that the green-and-white-striped Camry can score a second Sprint Cup victory of the season Sunday afternoon in the Irish Hills of Michigan.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

Kyle Busch straps into his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

Kyle Busch straps into his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images

 What do you think the speeds will be like at Michigan this weekend, and what did you learn in the season’s first race there in June?

 “Speeds at Michigan are up and they’re fast. It’s hard for Goodyear to make a tire that feels like it has enough grip to withstand the amount of speed we do carry, the amount of load we carry, the amount of temperature that they develop because we are going so fast. It’s not a favorable tire to the drivers, I don’t think, but it’s just because the cars are so darn fast. What we learned last time at Michigan – I felt like we ran well. We were running fourth to sixth or so and having a decent day, and then that was one of the races where we had a rear-wheel bearing failure, so I essentially finished, I think, 41st or something. Not such a good day for us but I felt like our car was fast enough to be capable of running in the top-10, and so I look forward to going back there and trying to see if we can’t do that again. It’s a place that you learn a little bit for Kansas because they’re both fresh repaves and I think you run on the same tire at both tracks – I can’t remember. But, it’s a place that you can learn some stuff for Kansas, so we like that.”

Most drivers really seem to enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway. Why is that?

“Regardless of new pavement or not, it’s wide-open racing and you can run from top to bottom. The biggest thing used to be to find grip there. But, with the new surface, there is a ton of grip now. Before, you had grip for maybe five laps and then you’d just be out to lunch. But now, the tire wear is all out the window and the racetrack is going to be very fast. And the wide racetrack is good. That’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun. That’s the biggest deal about it.”

The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry is impossible to miss in the garage or on the track. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry is impossible to miss in the garage or on the track. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

What does it mean to get your 500th start in a Toyota in the Saturday’s Truck Series race at Michigan?

“It just means I’ve been running too many races. But, I’m excited about it. It’s obviously a bit of a milestone whether you run just Cup races and reach 500 or whether you run all three series and you reach 500. There’s been a lot of success in-between those 500 starts and, yet, some heartache, too. It’s exciting to have as many wins as I do have across all three series of NASCAR with the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. In those 500 starts in a Toyota, 114 of those are wins. That’s a pretty good number.”

What does it mean to be the winningest Toyota driver with the most starts?

“I think it’s pretty neat to be as successful as we’ve been in these NASCAR series, but also behind the wheel of a Toyota. Toyota pours a lot of heart and soul into this sport. It’s helped make it what it is today with constant improvements from 2007 when it joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It’s been an instrumental part of helping the sport evolve with the cars and everything else, so it’s been pretty good.”

Are you hoping to lock yourself into the Chase here, soon?

“Yeah, no doubt. You definitely want to be locked in. I feel like we’re sure enough to make the Chase but we want to be able to win. I felt like we had a chance last week to get ourselves locked in, but that obviously was cut short and so here we are this week just doing what we typically try to do. You want to be further up in the point standings and it can be very frustrating to be here because I know that’s not our capabilities. But, to be honest, you look on the flip side of the coin and it really doesn’t matter where you are. It just matters where you end up and how well you do in the final 10 races.”

You won the last race before the Michigan track was resurfaced. How much did the track change over the winters since the first race there on the new pavement?

“I think it has aged a bit and widened out a little bit more and we were better there in June. We just had some unfortunate luck with a rear-end gear issue. We struggled on the repaved tracks the last couple of years, but we were much improved at Kansas than we were there last year, so that gives me hope that we can do the same at Michigan this week. We just have to keep working hard and chip away at it like we approached the race at Kansas. I’m hoping we can learn enough in practice that we can have a good run there this weekend. One of the biggest things on repaved tracks is track position. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the Interstate Batteries guys have worked really hard on our qualifying setup, and I think we’ve improved on that as an organization with the new qualifying format. It will have to start with a good qualifying effort and seeing what we can learn in practice Saturday.”

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Team Interstate: Twists, Turns and Tangles at the Glen

August 11th, 2014 by
Team Interstate's Kyle Busch in the earlier part of Sunday's race, before the day turned bad. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch in the earlier part of Sunday’s race, before the day turned bad. Copyright 2014 Autostock Images.

It just wasn’t the day that Team Interstate’s Kyle Busch had hoped for in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355k Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing entered Sunday’s race with high hopes of scoring his third overall and second consecutive Sprint Cup Series win at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. Instead, Kyle had a trying outing that saw him spend more than 20 laps in the garage for accident repairs after making contact with a fellow competitor at lap 27. Kyle was relegated to a disappointing 40th-place finish.

“It just wasn’t our day today. I don’t think there’s much more we can say,” Kyle said. “I give everybody on the M&M’s team a lot of credit, though, because they did what they could as a team to repair the car. We went back out there and tried to make the best of the situation. Hopefully, we were able to learn something that we will be able to use later in the year.”

Teammate Denny Hamlin saw a promising run slip away when he spun after a restart with just a few laps remaining. He would finish 24th on the day. Matt Kenseth battled throughout the day to score a 9th-place finish.

Results from Watkins Glen 2014

Nationwide Series

Watkins Glen

Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series

Unadilla Sports Valley, New Berlin, N.Y.

  • No. 10 – Justin Brayton – 5th
  • No. 38 – Phil Nicoletti – 8th

Wrap-up (JGRMX.com)

This Week

Kyle Busch's Interstate Batteries hood

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