Kyle Busch: #Mission18 Full Speed Ahead
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, Ill., and the second Chase race last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, JGR teammates have started NASCAR’s version of the playoffs with the hot hands. Kenseth and Busch posted back-to-back 1-2 finishes with Kenseth winning both.
While satisfied with his strong start to the Chase, Busch will head to Dover, statistically one of his better tracks, in hopes of being the JGR driver who wins in week three of the playoffs.
But this weekend, Busch will not only try to keep the early Chase momentum going, he’ll shoot for his sixth top-10 finish in his last seven events at the racetrack known as the “Monster Mile.” Busch has led an impressive 900 laps in his previous 17 starts at Dover. Even more impressive is that, while wins have eluded Busch in the past two Sprint Cup races there, he has led a staggering 452 of a possible 800 laps completed in those races.
So as Busch and his Interstate Batteries team look to continue their white-hot start to the Chase, they will look to build on strong recent runs at Dover in hopes of closing the deal with their Interstate Batteries Camry Sunday afternoon on the Delmarva Peninsula.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Is this the fast start to the Chase you were hoping for?
“Yeah, but there’s somebody faster, so it doesn’t matter how fast I am. 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. It’s all about the prize at the end. It’s only two races, and you certainly would like to get off to a good start, but it’s early. This team will keep working hard each week and hope we’ll be in the hunt toward the end.”
Is Joe Gibbs Racing the top organization in the garage today?
“I don’t know. That’s a tough question to ask. I think this sport goes in circles all the time. You see a lot of teams that prosper and do really well and then they sort of go back on their down swing, and sometimes you see them hit bottom or whatnot. If it’s a circle graph or if it’s a line graph, you can always see it going up and down like a rollercoaster. I think it happens to every team and, whether or not we’re on top, I don’t think that’s an answer that can be written until after Homestead (Miami-Speedway, site of the Chase finale).”
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.”
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 this 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.”