Kyle Busch: Ready for Rebound in July
After a stellar May, during which he recorded four top-five finishes in four races, the driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) found little good fortune during the five Sprint Cup races contested during June.
The No. 18 team suffered from engine issues at the first three June events, at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, leading to disappointing finishes of 29th, 30th, and 32nd, respectively. Two weekends ago, on the road course at Sonoma, Calif., Busch suffered damage from incidental contact not of his doing and came home 17th. Last weekend at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Busch looked as if he might have shaken the bad luck to finish the month when he led a race-high 118 of the opening 211 laps. But a broken shock mount required lengthy pit stops for repairs under caution, and he and the No. 18 team had to rally for a 10th-place finish that betrayed their domination.
Busch and the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center team are hoping their fortunes improve in July as they open the month Saturday night at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway with the traditional midsummer Coke Zero 400.
Busch & Company will roll into Daytona with a different look gracing the No. 18 Toyota this weekend – the metallic and reflective green-and-gold scheme for Interstate All Battery Center stores. The Interstate All Battery Center colors this weekend come as the company continues its franchise expansion throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Recognized as a top-50 franchisor by Franchise Business Review, All Battery Center stores provide “Every Battery for Every Need,” with more than 16,000 portable power solutions.
Busch hopes the change of colors results in a much-needed change in luck to start July. He is no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero 400, winning the July 2008 race behind the wheel of the Interstate Batteries Toyota.
Most recently, Busch put on a spectacular performance Feb. 18 at Daytona en route to winning the Budweiser Shootout. Las Vegas native Busch passed three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart coming to the finish line on the final lap to claim his first career victory in the non-points event. Busch won by .013 of a second, the closest finish in Budweiser Shootout history. It was incredible that Busch was even in position to win since, earlier in the race, he saved himself from a pair of major collisions by displaying phenomenal driving skill.
With all of that in mind, Busch heads back to Daytona this weekend sporting different colors and hoping for some much better luck. He would like nothing more than to start July in the best way possible – bringing the Interstate All Battery Centers green-and-gold paint scheme to victory lane Saturday night.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Do you have to focus as much on your gauges at Daytona as you do what is in front of you?
“You definitely have to focus a lot more on your gauges at restrictor-plate races due to the fact the grill opening is so small that it’s really easy to overheat your engine and run hot. For us drivers now, you’re still obviously paying a lot of attention to what’s going on around you. But those gauges, you can’t take a chance of hurting your engine, especially in the early going. About the only time you don’t look at your gauges are the last three laps. You’re just going to go for what it is. If you make it, you make it and, if you don’t, you don’t. That’s kind of what it boils down to.”
Is Daytona still a special racetrack for you?
“Daytona is cool – a lot more in February than in the summer just because it is the Daytona 500 versus the Coke Zero 400. For us, you still want to win everywhere you go, every single week. To win at Daytona is always cool. It’s definitely special. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR – the superspeedway aspect of it. I definitely love going there. It’s hot, it’s slick, and you can make the most out of you as a driver and what you’ve got in the car. We won there in 2008, and I’m hoping we can get a win with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry this weekend.”
Do you expect to see more pack racing at Daytona, much like you did there in February?
“I think we kind of saw a little bit of that at Daytona in February and Talladega several weeks back. There wasn’t much tandem-style stuff going on. You do just overheat too fast, and you can’t take a chance on overheating and pushing water out and hurting your motor. It’s a long race, and you want to save your motor for the end. The thing about Daytona in February was that it was hard to get the outside lane moving since it’s not as wide as Talladega is. It seemed like once you got single-filed out on the bottom, the bottom was too strong to hold and to hold off the outside lane or any progress from the outside lane. We’ll see how it plays out this weekend with how much warmer the temperatures will be than they were there in February.”
What do you think about the pop-off valve being changed at Daytona?
“I think it’s just so hot outside that they knew we were going to overheat, anyway, so they just gave us a little bit more cushion. That’s about it.”
Have you gained patience through this season?
“Yeah, maybe I’m too patient. I don’t know because I’m sitting 12th right now. I haven’t been back this far in a long time. We’re just running through what we can do. There was the early stretch of the year where everybody thought, ‘What’s wrong with the 18?’ Then, when we won at Richmond and then clicked off five top-fives in a row, then it was, ‘Oh, well, the 18 is back.’ Now, we’ve had some bad luck again. I guess it comes in cycles sometimes. Certainly, we’d like to prove that when we have a bad week, we can rebound well. But we haven’t been able to do that just with reoccurring issues. Got to get that monkey off our back, somehow. Shake it and get going.”
- Kyle Busch Salvages Night With Top 10 Finish (blogbattery.com)
- Changes to Daytona NW Lineup (joegibbsracing.com)