Kansas Is Do Or Die For Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch
Three weeks ago, after the Round of 16 elimination race at Dover, Kyle Busch was in a comfort zone.

Then Charlotte and Talladega happened.

In the first event in the Round of 12, Busch hit the wall at Charlotte and finished 29th, six laps down. In last Sunday’s thrilling race at Talladega, he crashed out in 27th.

Those two results wiped out the advantage he had built in playoff points and left him ninth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, seven points behind Jimmie Johnson in eighth.

With elimination looming in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, only 10 points separate Ryan Blaney in seventh from Matt Kenseth in 10th, with Johnson and Busch in-between. In all probability, two of those four drivers will advance to the Round of 8, and two won’t.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be worried about this if I didn’t have Charlotte or Talladega happen,” Busch said. “But that’s not the situation we’re in. We’ve just got to do a good job. This is our first ‘Homestead’ of this year.

“We’ve got to come through this race. It’s not a must-win, but it is a must-perform. We’ve got to do everything right in order to go out there and be the top guy all day out of the four legitimate candidates that are fighting for the two spots available. We’ve just got to concentrate on that and make sure we can get it done.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Faces Elimination At Kansas

Kyle Busch
The four-round elimination-style Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs can chew a driver up and spit him out in no time whatsoever!

Kyle Busch knows this as well as anyone.

The No. 18 Toyota driver entered the Playoffs third in the points standings and looked like the favorite to take the series crown after winning twice in the Round of 16.

But his situation changed rapidly in the Round of 12. Busch finished 29th at Charlotte, followed by a 27th-place performance at Talladega. Now, he sits on the brink of elimination – seven points behind Jimmie Johnson for the final Round of 8 transfer spot going into Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

“We are still some points out but we can go out there and try and get as many stage points as possible and, if we get a good run, we still have a shot to make it through,” Busch said. “We’ll just have to do what we’ve been doing all year and see where that puts us.”

Luckily for Busch, Kansas has treated him well recently. Although struggling at the 1.5-mile track early in his career, Busch has finished no lower than fifth in his last five starts there. His run includes a Kansas win in the spring of 2016.

“We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done – same preparation, nothing different,” Busch said. “I think we need to go in there and do our best to be prepared and when it comes to race time, try to limit our mistakes. I think that helped out there over the years and that has turned our team into a contender every time we race there, now. We’ll just do the same things this time around.”

The only way Busch can advance to the Round of 12 without the help of other drivers is to win Sunday’s race!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kansas Has Turned Into A Major Challenge For Kyle

Kyle Busch

 If one were to look at Kyle Busch’s last seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, the difference for the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) couldn’t be any more stark.

The 1.5-mile oval built in 2001, which originally featured a constant 15 degrees of banking in the turns, underwent a massive renovation project leading into its October 2012 Cup Series event. The changes included repaving of the existing track surface, reconfiguration of the oval, and the addition of a new infield road course. The oval’s geometric shape also was changed to feature variable banking of 17 to 20 degrees in the turns.

To say that Busch didn’t take well to the new surface would be quite the understatement. From October 2012 to 2013, Busch had three consecutive DNFs (Did Not Finish) there, with accidents ending his day each time for final results of 31st, 38th and 34th.

Feeling snakebit on the new Kansas surface, Busch and his M&M’S Halloween team took a different approach starting with the April 2014 race there by starting from scratch with a brand new car. They attacked the track in the Heartland of America with hope that a fresh outlook would produce vastly different results. While a pit-road speeding penalty cost them precious track position and an even better finish in the race, the result was still much different than the three previous trips. They began to turn the corner in terms of competitiveness and results.

Starting with the October 2014 Cup Series race at Kansas, Busch brought home his first ever top-five finish at the track. Anyone who has ever followed Busch’s career knows the 2015 Cup Series champion never cared much for moral victories. However, the momentum carried over from the October 2014 top-five to his next Kansas race in October 2015, when he finished a solid third. It was a finish that helped vault him through to the next round of the Cup Series playoffs and eventually to the championship stage.

Busch keeps making strides each time he goes back to the Heartland, where he broke through for his first Cup Series win at the 1.5-mile oval in May 2016 as the surface finally started to wear and become more agreeable to Busch’s driving style.

Sunday afternoon in Kansas, Busch and the M&M’S Halloween team will look to tackle the final race of the Round of 12 of the 2017 Playoffs. Busch is looking to overcome a seven-point deficit to the all-important eighth-place spot in the playoff standings after bad luck struck when he was collected in a multicar accident Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The Las Vegas hopes for a strong run at Kansas in order to advance to the Round of 8.

So, as the Cup Series heads to the Heartland of America Sunday, a sixth top-five finish in a row at Kansas could be just what Busch needs to move on to the next playoff round. And even though Halloween is fast approaching, Kansas isn’t as scary as it used to be for Busch and his colorful M&M’S Halloween Toyota.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
With a seven-point deficit to eighth place coming into Kansas, what is the mindset going into this weekend as you go to place you have improved so much over the last three years?

“We’re going to do the same things we’ve always done – same preparation, nothing different. I think we need to go in there and do our best to be prepared and when it comes to race time, try to limit our mistakes. I think that helped out there over the years and that has turned our team into a contender every time we race there, now. We’ll just do the same things this time around. It’s no different than what we typically do each and every week, though. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will have a good M&M’S Halloween Camry and we will keep doing what we’ve been doing well all year long and see where the points fall for us if we can’t get a win.”

What difference have the bonus points for stage wins and race wins made for you so far in the playoffs?

“We’ve obviously had a terrible round and we are still within striking distance. If we didn’t have those bonus points, we wouldn’t have much shot going into this weekend. So I’m thankful that the system is in place that rewards the good runs we had during the regular season. We are still some points out but we can go out there and try and get as many stage points as possible and, if we get a good run, we still have a shot to make it through. We’ll just have to do what we’ve been doing all year and see where that puts us.”

You won at Kansas in 2016 after all the trouble and so many close calls and so much bad luck. Does it help your confidence at all that you’re going into Kansas knowing that you finally hit on something there?

“It certainly did. Not that long ago I probably wouldn’t say those words but, you know, it’s suddenly become a really good place for us recently. We’ve had a good string of top-fives so, hopefully, we can go there and have another good run to give us a shot of making it to the next round. We just have to move on from the last two weekends, try to score the most points possible.”

Kansas had been a frustrating place for you during your career, but have you and your team turned the corner there with five top-five finishes in a row there?

“I think so. We ran third there in the fall of 2014. I wasn’t there in the spring race of 2015 since that was the last race I was recovering from my injury, but (Erik) Jones ran up front until he ended up wrecking. Last fall, Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the M&M’S guys did an awesome job and we ran top-five again. The last few several races there, the track really has started to change and the groove is starting to spread out, and it makes me more comfortable when a track gets worn in. Adam and the guys have been bringing really good racecars to the track every weekend and, when you have great cars and run up front, good things are going to happen.”

M&M’S Halloween Racing

Race 32 of 36 – Hollywood Casino 400 – Kansas

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Halloween Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Toyota Camry.

 

At-Track PR Contact: Bill Janitz, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 803 or Bill.Janitz@TrueSpeedCommunication.com).

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas

 

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Race Engineer: Ben Beshore

Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

 

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

 

Jackman: Trey Burklin

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris

Hometown: Winter Springs, Florida

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Matt Ver Meer

Hometown: Montezuma, Iowa

 

Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartmann

Hometown: Oxford, North Carolina

 

Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

Pit Support: Jeff Koons

Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

 

Race Engineer: Tyler Allen

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

 

Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York

 

Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

 

Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

 

Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:
  • The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City will mark Kyle Busch’s458th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 20th NASCAR Cup Series start at Kansas.
  • Busch has career totals of 42 wins, 27 poles, 159 top-five finishes, 237 top-10s and 14,035 laps led in 457 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came three weekends ago at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, came last month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He has eight poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has one win, five top-five finishes and seven top-10s and has led a total of 215 laps in 19 career Cup Series starts at Kansas. Busch’s average Kansas finish is17.7.
  • Clean Sweep Times Two: For the second time in his career, Busch swept a weekend in all three of NASCAR’s National Series –Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck –in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The first time Busch completed the feat also happened to be at Bristol back in 2010, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is the only driver to do so –now twice – in NASCAR history.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured another pole last month at New Hampshire, which was the eighth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Eight poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career with 29.6 percent of his career poles coming this season alone. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions –2013 and 2014.
  • 42 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Dover, the 42nd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list.With his 40th Cup victory coming at Bristol in August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas added to the list last season, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway crossed off the list in July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only track remaining to conquer in the Cup Series is Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Busch, of course, was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte back in May but is still chasing a points-paying Cup Series victory there. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 38 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Dover.
  • 182 and Counting: Busch enters Kansas with 182 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (42), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series win three races ago at Dover.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

It Is “Wild Card” Weekend For Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch

Each January, the National Football League opens its playoffs with what is called “Wild Card Weekend” as four teams that did not win their division but still earned playoff berths get the chance to advance toward their ultimate goal – a Super Bowl championship.

As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this weekend, NASCAR’s top series holds its annual “Wild Card Weekend” of a different sort. Heading into Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, there probably isn’t a track on the circuit upon which racing is as much of an unknown as the mammoth 2.66-mile oval.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has found fortune both good and bad during NASCAR’s version of wild card weekend. With lessons learned from his now 13-season career, the 2015 Cup Series champion knows anything can happen at Talladega. But, unlike years past, Talladega is now the second race of the Round of 12 of the NASCAR playoffs, a departure from the elimination race it’s been during the same round the past three seasons.

After a tough race during the first Round of 12 race last weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Busch will look to recover from a race where he made contact with the wall around the halfway point of the race and made a valiant effort to tough it out through the rest of the race to bring home a 29th-place finish.

While the finish was disappointing, every point matters in the NASCAR playoff format, and the 2015 Cup Series champion still sits above the cutline with a 12-point cushion back to ninth-place JGR teammate Matt Kenseth. But he and his M&M’S Caramel team aren’t fooled at all by the word cushion, which isn’t comforting at a place like Talladega. So far, only Martin Truex Jr., by virtue of his win at Charlotte last weekend, is guaranteed a spot in the Round of 8. Despite the tough day, Busch’s strength from the regular season, as well as the Round of 16, earned him a total of 41 playoff points and has been able to keep him thus far above the cutline.

But as Talladega looms, one lap, or even one corner, could change a driver’s fortunes quickly.

Busch has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. In his 24 starts at the track, he has 11 other top-15 finishes, and four outings that ended in an accident. So, the Las Vegas native knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will need to have a strong car and some good fortune at NASCAR’s longest track. If Busch could at least match his strong third-place run in the spring, it could bolster his chances of making it to the next round of the playoffs following next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

So, as NASCAR prepares for its version of “Wild Card Weekend” at Talladega, Busch hopes to stay in front of the chaos with his M&M’S Caramel Camry, then head to Kansas the following week with a shot of advancing in the tightly contested NASCAR playoffs.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
With the issues at Charlotte, how will you and the team approach this weekend at Talladega?

“I think you approach it the same way no matter what happened last week. I’ve been in front and been a part of a wreck and I’ve been riding in the back and been taken out, too. There’s really no place that’s safe. With this race now the second race of the round, you have to try and run up front and hope that you don’t have some bad luck and just bring home a solid finish. We’ll do the best we can this weekend with our M&M’S Caramel Camry and see where the points fall for us afterward, then focus on what we need to do at Kansas.”

Strategy‑wise, which is your best track remaining?

“I don’t really look at one, necessarily. I kind of look at all of them. I look at all of them as being really good tracks for us that we can contend at. If I look at two that are kind of worrisome, the two most worrisome tracks for me are Talladega this weekend, and Texas because of the repave, that unknown there. We were fast, we had speed, but we didn’t show it through the entire race at Texas in the spring. We kind of fell off and ran 16th for a little bit of the day. Those are the only two that I’m a little worrisome about. The rest of them, I’m not worried at all. I feel like we’re pretty good. If we can have a decent finish this weekend, I feel like Kansas next weekend has been really good for us, recently.”

Do you try and duplicate what worked at Talladega before?

“Yeah, I think so. I mean, there are obviously times when you feel like you want to push hard and go get a win or go get a better finish than where you’re currently running. But, you know you’ve just got to do what you can in order to let these races kind of fall into place, and sometimes it’s just worth taking the finish that’s coming to you and moving on and going to the next one. It doesn’t always help to push too hard, either, at times, there’s a balance there, for sure. It can also help to just sit back, relax and finish where you can, so we’ll see how it plays out for us.”

What is the key to pulling off a victory at Talladega?

“The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble. At Talladega, you pretty much stay around the bottom since there is a lot of grip there, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single-file at the bottom, sometimes it’s hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good cars to get something going. It can be frustrating at times because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that’s when it starts to get crazy.”

Is there anything from what you learned in 2008 that has stuck with you about yourself or how to race for a championship?

“The biggest thing was don’t change what you’re doing. We kind of started to change what we were doing, changed our setups, what we were running throughout the year. We were watching what the other cars were doing, the other guys who were around us who were faster. We started seeing some trends in what they were doing, so we started switching to their trends. That just took us off our game. We should have stayed focused on what we were doing, worried about what we were doing, made sure our stuff would out‑perform their stuff, and we didn’t do that and you learn from every instance over the years.”

M&M’S Caramel Racing

Race 31 of 36 – Alabama 500 – Talladega

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Toyota Camry.

 

At-Track PR Contact: Bill Janitz, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 803 or Bill.Janitz@TrueSpeedCommunication.com).

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas

 

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Race Engineer: Ben Beshore

Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

 

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

 

Jackman: Trey Burklin

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris

Hometown: Winter Springs, Florida

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Matt Ver Meer

Hometown: Montezuma, Iowa

 

Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartmann

Hometown: Oxford, North Carolina

 

Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

Pit Support: Jeff Koons

Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

 

Race Engineer: Tyler Allen

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

 

Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York

 

Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

 

Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

 

Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:
  • The Alabama 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway will mark Kyle Busch’s 457th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 25th NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega.
  • Busch has career totals of 42 wins, 27 poles, 159 top-five finishes, 237 top-10s and 14,031 laps led in 456 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came two weekends ago at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, came last month at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He has eight poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has one win, six top-five finishes and seven top-10s and has led a total of 229 laps in 24 career Cup Series starts at Talladega. Busch’s average Talladega finish is 20.5.
  • Clean Sweep Times Two: For the second time in his career, Busch swept a weekend in all three of NASCAR’s National Series –Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck –in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The first time Busch completed the feat also happened to be at Bristol back in 2010, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is the only driver to do so –now twice – in NASCAR history.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured another pole last month at New Hampshire, which was the eighth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Eight poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career with 29.6 percent of his career poles coming this season alone. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions –2013 and 2014.
  • 42 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Dover, the 42nd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list.With his 40th Cup victory coming at Bristol in August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway crossed off the list in July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only track remaining to conquer in the Cup Series is Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Busch, of course, was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte back in May but is still chasing a points-paying Cup Series victory there. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 38 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Dover.
  • 182 and Counting: Busch enters Talladega with 182 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (42), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series win two races ago at Dover.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Digs Himself A Hole After Charlotte

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch didn’t stagger, nor did he stumble as he emerged from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Infield Care Center on Sunday. Still he gingerly made his way toward a golf cart while he delicately slipped a pair of dark sunglasses across an ashen face.

Busch spent nearly an hour in the clinic following the Bank of America 500, receiving fluids and other treatment for the effects of a muggy day that was masked by overcast skies. Medical personnel attended to him shortly after he exited his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry following a 29th-place finish.

But bigger than that 29th-place finish is the 0-for-28 collar he’ll now wear at least until next May, that being his record in official races at Charlotte. And in the short term an even more significant total is 12, as in the dozen points that separate him from the cutline that will slice four drivers from the playoff field to eight in two weeks after the series races at Kansas.

More fun with numbers: His sticky day at Charlotte started with him second in points –– it ended with him sixth.

“It stinks to give up points,” Busch said. “We came in here thinking we had a shot to run in the top 10 and we did. We just threw that … I threw it away. So we’re still above the cutline, but we don’t have that cushion that we’d like to have. You can go into Talladega (next week), crash out early and be in the back of the pack and not finish well and be coming from behind in Kansas.”

The idea of having to press over the next two weeks didn’t seem necessary when things began on Sunday.

Busch was in second place when he hit the Turn 3 wall on Lap 136, suffering damage to his right rear quarterpanel. His team had the car back out before the five-minute clock expired, yet the lost time was too much to overcome. Indeed his car was never competitive after that, with his No. 18 Toyota falling behind by six laps while battling random slips into the wall.

To compound matters, the effects of a humid day began to take their toll on the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. And a suffocating environment was exacerbated by crushed panels on his car that permitted noxious fumes into the cockpit.

Busch sprawled on the infield grass for several minutes after the race before he slowly stood, shed his firesuit and boarded an ambulance that carried him to the medical center.

“They said my CO was in the double digits, so obviously fighting some of that, too,” Busch said. “But, overall, it was just the hottest I’ve been in the car. I didn’t feel sick from the CO or anything like that. I just felt heat stroke and I’ve had that before. Living out in Vegas, you have that a few times when you’re playing outside in the summer as a kid. I knew what it was, I knew what it felt like, but the only way to do it was to get out and cool down.”

Sunday was the 11th time that Busch, who started fourth, finished 20th or worse at Charlotte. Three times he’s been a runner-up, including the Coca-Cola 600 in May. He has 16 top-10 showings and has finished in the top-five 11 times.

Yet, again, he remains winless.

“So far he hasn’t (had good luck at Charlotte),” Gibbs told reporters along pit road. “We hope to climb out that hole someday.”

Talladega looms out of the front windsheld!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Is All Charged Up For The Round of 12

Kyle Busch

 Kyle Busch, coming off back-to-back Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff wins, will be heading to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway this weekend all charged up.

And who can blame him, as he won two of the three races in the Round of 16. Busch will look to add another playoff win, and his first career Cup Series points win at Charlotte, as the Interstate Batteries logos will be aboard his green-and-white-striped No. 18 Toyota for Sunday afternoon’s Bank of America 500.

With the Interstate Batteries team’s recent “charge” in NASCAR’s postseason, Busch looks to keep the momentum going as the Cup Series enters its fourth race of the 2017 playoffs in this exciting and sometimes unpredictable playoff format.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has proven over the years that he can get the job done at just about every racetrack in NASCAR’s top series. In fact, Busch heads into this weekend chasing a long-awaited victory at Charlotte that would make him a winner at every track on the circuit, as well as a step closer to his immediate goal of bringing home a second Cup Series championship.

With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and crossing Pocono (Pa.) Raceway off the list this past July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.

While he finally broke through and won the non-points All-Star Race at Charlotte in May, Busch continues to chase the ever-elusive points-paying Cup Series victory there.

Other drivers have come close to the feat Busch has in his sights – winning at every track on the circuit. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season one short of the accomplishment as he was unable to secure a win at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time-champion Tony Stewart, who retired at the end of last season, does not have Kentucky or Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on his career win list.

With Busch advancing to the Round of 12 of the playoffs after the New Hampshire and Dover wins, the focus Sunday will be on getting to victory lane and locking his Interstate Batteries team into the Round of 8 of this year’s playoffs.

The 2015 Cup Series champion has visited Charlotte’s victory lane a combined 15 times in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series, leaving no doubt Busch knows how to close out race wins in bunches at the 1.5-mile oval in the heart of NASCAR country.

So as Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries team head just down the road from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Huntersville, North Carolina headquarters, the hottest driver in NASCAR will be looking to add Charlotte to the win column, which could be critical in his “charge” toward another championship in November at the season finale at Homestead.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 1Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
What does it mean to advance to the Round of 12, which starts this weekend?

“We had a really solid first round. I could not be more proud of the guys on this Interstate Batteries team. We added more bonus points in the first round, so hopefully we can have a good, solid next three races and keep advancing. Charlotte has always been a good place for me and, with the way we ran there in May, it should give us some confidence going into this weekend.”

You added some bonus points with wins the last two weeks. Do you think the bonus points are going to be a bigger help to you in the early rounds?

“I think the Talladega round obviously is going to be the biggest one, right? Right now, that’s where (Martin) Truex (Jr.) got knocked out last year. I think that’s kind of the biggest change from last year, that would have probably allowed him to go through where he’s at this year, and how well they ran last year, too. They would have accumulated the same if not maybe a tick fewer stage points. Got to race it out. It’s circumstantial. You’ve got to play it out, see what happens.”

How many championships do you hope to instill for your legacy in this sport?

“For me, I don’t care about my legacy. It’s more important than winning one, it’s more important than winning two, three or four. I’d feel happy if I were able to get five. I feel like that’s a challenging goal, yet one that probably is achievable. Why wouldn’t I say seven or eight? I feel like I’m too far along. If I was going to say I’d get to seven or eight, I should have had three by now. It’s just tough in this business. It’s hard in this sport. I mean, you could go rattle off five in a row – we’ve seen that done before. But, realistically, how easy is that? It’s not. I always try to look at the ‘realistic-ness’ of it and being able to see what’s truly achievable.”

You’ve always said that Charlotte is your favorite track. Is there any particular reason why?

“Charlotte is my favorite racetrack for a lot of reasons. Just growing up watching races on TV, I loved watching the All-Star Race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Xfinity Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. In Cup, I’ve had a lot of good finishes, but haven’t won one until the All-Star Race in May, but hoping that’s the beginning of good things for me there.”

You’ve won at every other Cup track, but you still haven’t won at Charlotte. Would you consider winning the October race at Charlotte to also be a huge feather in your cap?

“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it’s one of my favorite tracks, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win in the Truck Series there in the spring, so I’m hoping we can change that this weekend and get a fall Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt a Charlotte win would be big with our Interstate Batteries Toyota.”

Interstate Batteries Racing

Race 30 of 36 – Bank of America 500 – Charlotte

Car No.: 18 – Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Toyota Camry.

 

At-Track PR Contact: Bill Janitz, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 803 or Bill.Janitz@TrueSpeedCommunication.com).

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas

 

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Race Engineer: Ben Beshore

Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

 

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

 

Jackman: Trey Burklin

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris

Hometown: Winter Springs, Florida

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Matt Ver Meer

Hometown: Montezuma, Iowa

 

Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartmann

Hometown: Oxford, North Carolina

 

Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

Pit Support: Jeff Koons

Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

 

Race Engineer: Tyler Allen

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

 

Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York

 

Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

 

Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

 

Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:
  • The Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway will mark Kyle Busch’s456th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 28th NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte.
  • Busch has career totals of 42 wins, 27 poles, 159 top-five finishes, 237 top-10s and 14,009 laps led in 455 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series wins came the last two weekends at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, came two weekends ago at New Hampshire. He has eight poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has one non-points win (2017 All-Star Race), 11 top-five finishes and 16top-10s and has led a total of 971 laps in 27 career Cup Series starts at Charlotte. Busch’s average Charlotte finish is 15.0.
  • All-Star Winner: While it wasn’t a points-paying race, Busch brought home a Cup Series victory in the All-Star Race at Charlotte in May. The win was Busch’s first victory in his 12th start in the All-Star Race, the largest number of starts before an All-Star Race win. The previous record was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
  • Clean Sweep Times Two: For the second time in his career, Busch swept a weekend in all three of NASCAR’s National Series –Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck –in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The first time Busch completed the feat also happened to be at Bristol back in 2010, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is the only driver to do so –now twice – in NASCAR history.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured another pole two weekends ago at New Hampshire, which was the eighth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Eight poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career with 29.6 percent of his career poles coming this season alone. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions –2013 and 2014.
  • 42 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Dover, the 42nd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list.With his 40th Cup victory coming at Bristol in August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway crossed off the list in July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only track remaining to conquer in the Cup Series is Charlotte. Busch, of course, was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte back in May but is still chasing a points-paying Cup Series victory there. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 38 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Dover.
  • 182 and Counting: Busch enters Dover with 182 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (42), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series win last weekend in Dover.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Steals The Apache Warrior 400 Win At Dover

Kyle Busch

You can call Kyle Busch the Grinch.

Halloween may be the next holiday on the calendar, but Kyle Busch, for sure, stole Christmas morning from Chase Elliott late Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway.

Running Elliott down from more than four seconds back in the last 40 laps of the Apache Warrior 400 at the Monster Mile, Busch powered his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around the outside of Elliott’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and cleared him off Turn 4 as the cars approached the white flag.

A lap later, Busch had his second straight victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff, leaving a disheartened Elliott still in search of his first victory in the series and agonizing over what he might have done differently.

Though Elliott was inconsolable, there were plenty of positives in his performance. The Hendrick cars showed real speed for the first time since the Playoff began two weeks earlier at Chicagoland, and Elliott moved on comfortably to the Round of 12.

Not as fortunate were Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch, who were eliminated from the Playoffs, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr., claimed the 12th and final spot in the next round by two points over Newman, thanks to a risky-but-serendipitous pit call by crew chief Brian Pattie.

But it was Busch who stole the show and stole the race, running the top line as he sliced into Elliott’s advantage and diced his way through traffic more adroitly than his less experienced rival.

“Man, I saw that carrot out there, and I wanted to go and get it,” said Busch, who won for the fourth time at Dover and the 42nd time in his career. “I got within five lengths and I stalled out and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I think that was it,’ you know? But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling. Chase was kind of plugged up with the lapped cars in front of him, so I think the lapped cars actually helped us with that one.

“But, overall, just great day for us. Great job by the team being able to get in Victory Lane here in Dover. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in Victory Lane here, and it’s hard to come by wins here because (11-time Dover winner) Jimmie (Johnson) takes up all the darn Monster trophies. But it’s nice to have a third or fourth in my collection – I can’t remember.”

Johnson, who finished third, tried to console his teammate, but Elliott felt he let his team and organization down when he failed to beat Busch to the finish line.

“I thought if I had a clean track, I could have run as fast as he did, but I didn’t, and I should have done something different,” said Elliott, still despondent when he arrived at the media center for his post-race interview. “So that’s just on me, and he did a better job than I did. At the end of the day that’s what it comes down to…

“Man, such a bummer, such a disappointment for my team. I don’t really have a whole lot to add.”

Series leader and pole winner Martin Truex Jr. ran fourth, followed by Kyle Larson and a trio of non-Playoff drivers—Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Daniel Suarez.

Busch, Truex, Larson and 10th-place finisher Brad Keselowski had clinched spots in the Round of 12 before arriving at Dover. Elliott, Johnson, Jamie McMurray (ninth on Sunday), Matt Kenseth (11th), Kevin Harvick (17th), Ryan Blaney (23rd), Denny Hamlin (35th) and Stenhouse (19th) joined them on Sunday.

But it was Stenhouse who won the nail-biter. But for Pattie’s decision to keep the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on track as long as possible during a cycle of green-flag pit stops late in the first stage, Stenhouse would have been eliminated.

As luck would have it, Jeffrey Earnhardt spun into the barrels protecting the entrance to pit road on Lap 86 to cause the first caution of the race one circuit before Stenhouse was scheduled to pit. The fortuitous yellow left five cars on the lead lap and gave Stenhouse the track position he needed to score seven points as the fourth-place finisher in Stage 1.

That gave him the edge he needed over Newman.

“We caught the caution there right at the right time with a perfect amount of laps left in the stage to get stage points and that was the turning point of the day,” said Stenhouse, who battled back from disaster at Chicagoland and a lackluster run at New Hampshire. “Our Fastenal Ford was definitely not close to what we needed, especially the last two runs. We were close before the last two runs and made some adjustments there and really fell off.

“All in all, like I said, I feel lucky that we had all the mistakes at Chicago and really not a good car at Chicago, Loudon or Dover but we still made it in. Really, it’s hats off to the guys for fighting all day, and it’s nice that the round starts over.”

Check out the unofficial results of the Apache Warrior 400 at Dover.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Is Having A Breakout Year

Kyle Busch
Before this year, Kyle Busch had never won more than three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series poles in a single season.

Then the floodgates opened in 2017.

Busch has become the top qualifier in the series with eight Coors Light Pole Awards this season, but the success was hardly instantaneous. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota didn’t win his first 2017 pole until the 13th race of the season, at Dover International Speedway.

Including that event, Busch has topped qualifying for eight of the last 17 races. On Friday afternoon, he narrowly missed a sweep of Dover poles this year when he qualified second to Martin Truex Jr. by .038 seconds.

Fortunately for Busch, the advent of stage racing, where qualifying position often leads to additional points in the first segment of a race, has dovetailed perfectly with the driver’s newfound prowess in time trials.

Perhaps that’s deliberate, though Busch isn’t sure why his pole count has improved so dramatically.

“Obviously it’s great that we have that,” Busch said. “I don’t know why the breakout is. But being able to qualify up front each and every week and having that speed right off the bat gives you a chance of scoring more stage points.

“I feel like that’s one of the things that’s helped us this year of staying further up in the running the entire season long and being able to get some of those stage wins. It’s just a testament to (crew chief) Adam Stevens and the group of guys and everything we’ve got going on.

“We unload pretty close right off the truck every single week, and that certainly helps a lot of things out where we’re not chasing ourselves as soon as we get off the truck.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch: Looking Forward To The Round Of 12

Kyle Busch

The late Al Davis of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders made famous the phrase “Just Win, Baby.”

For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the mantra seems appropriate for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the final race of the Round of 16 in the 2017 playoffs.

The 2015 Cup Series champion and his team will already be looking forward to the start of the second round of the playoffs the following weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway after locking themselves into the Round of 12 with a win last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The New Hampshire win was Busch’s first in a playoff race since his championship-sealing victory in 2015 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale. And it was Busch’s first win to advance in the playoffs since the elimination format began in 2014.

But before they head for Charlotte, Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire M&M’S Caramel team look to do the only thing that they can to advance their position in the playoffs – “Just Win, Baby.” In addition to being locked into the Round of 12, Busch and his team will hope to add more valuable playoff points to the war chest. Last weekend alone, their Stage 2 win and the race victory added six more points to their playoff total, which can be transferred through each round. Busch now has a total of 36 playoff points, the second-most behind points-leader Martin Truex Jr., who has accumulated 59.

The bottom line for the M&M’S Caramel team is a win is all that matters in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover in order to accumulate more playoff points with an eye on advancing to this year’s championship race at Homestead in November.

Much like the first two playoff venues at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois and New Hampshire, Busch and his M&M’S Caramel team have some impressive stats at Dover to bolster their confidence. Busch has two Cup Series wins, five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins to his credit at the concrete mile oval. Busch has led 1,158 laps in his previous 25 Cup Series starts at Dover, an average of almost 45 per race. He will look to improve on his runner-up finish at Dover in last fall’s playoff race, which is among his 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the track known as the “Monster Mile.”

So, as the M&M’S Caramel team heads to Dover, Busch will have one focus, which is not much different than any other race as he looks to “Just Win, Baby,” in Sunday afternoon’s 400-miler on the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware’s capital city.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
What will be the team’s goals this weekend at Dover?

“Winning is really all that matters for us this weekend but, if we can’t do that, we’ll work on getting the best finish possible like we always do. We just need to keep executing as a team like we’ve been doing pretty much every week. Dover has been a good place for me. We ran really well there last fall and ended up second. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and all the M&M’S Caramel guys are working hard to have a good car off the truck and get us off to a strong start this weekend and, hopefully, we can finish off a strong run there this time.”

Now that you are locked into the Round of 12, is your focus any different than usual going into Dover this weekend?

“I think the biggest thing for us is to just keep focusing on what we’ve done all year long, just keep trying to go out there and run hard, run smooth and be good at what we do. Having fast racecars helps us to be able to stay out front.  We’ve got a good pit crew. They did a good job at New Hampshire, did everything right. And from there, this weekend, we’re just trying to collect stage points, go out there and race as hard as we can, get stage wins, get race wins, and do what we can in order to keep padding that cushion that we have for the start of every round.”

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 turns 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 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 M&M’S Caramel Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Xfinity 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.”

M&M’S Caramel Racing

Race 29 of 36 – Apache Warrior 400 – Dover

Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry

 

Teammates:  Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Toyota Camry.

 

At-Track PR Contact: Bill Janitz, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388 ext. 803 or Bill.Janitz@TrueSpeedCommunication.com).

Primary Team Members:

Driver: Kyle Busch

Hometown: Las Vegas

 

Crew Chief: Adam Stevens

Hometown: Portsmouth, Ohio

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Race Engineer: Ben Beshore

Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Kenneth Purcell

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia

 

Front Tire Changer: Clay Robinson

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

 

Jackman: Trey Burklin

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris

Hometown: Winter Springs, Florida

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Matt Ver Meer

Hometown: Montezuma, Iowa

 

Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartmann

Hometown: Oxford, North Carolina

 

Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado

 

Pit Support: Jeff Koons

Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members:

Truck Drivers: Brendan Greene and Jamie Price

Hometowns: Midland, North Carolina, and Choteau, Montana, respectively

 

Tire Specialist: Jon Desrocher

Hometown: Plattsburgh, New York

 

Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape

Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania

 

Race Engineer: Tyler Allen

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

 

Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase

Hometown: Nichols, New York

 

Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones

Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

 

Mechanic: Todd Foster

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

 

Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth

Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois

Notes of Interest:
  • The Apache Warrior 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway will mark Kyle Busch’s455th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 26th NASCAR Cup Series start at Dover.
  • Busch has career totals of 41 wins, 27 poles, 158 top-five finishes, 236 top-10s and 13,979 laps led in 454 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, also came last weekend at New Hampshire. He now has eight poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has two wins, 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s and has led a total of 1,158 laps in 25 career Cup Series starts at Dover. Busch’s average Dover finish is14.8.
  • Clean Sweep Times Two: For the second time in his career, Busch swept a weekend in all three of NASCAR’s National Series –Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck –last month at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The first time Busch completed the feat also happened to be at Bristol back in 2010, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is the only driver to do so –now twice – in NASCAR history.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured the pole yet again last weekend at New Hampshire, which was the eighth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Eight poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career with 29.6 percent of his career poles coming this season alone. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions –2013 and 2014.
  • 41 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at New Hampshire, the 41st points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list. With his 40th Cup victory coming at Bristol in August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and now Pocono crossed off the list in July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only track remaining to conquer in the Cup Series is Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Busch, of course, was the winner of the All-Star non-points race at Charlotte back in May but is still chasing a points-paying Cup Series victory there. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 37 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Bristol.
  • 181 and Counting: Busch enters Dover with 181 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (41), Xfinity (91) and Truck (49) following his Cup Series win last weekend in New Hampshire.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM SITLL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Noah Gragson Gets Home Field Advantage This Saturday

Noah Gragson

In sports it is usually considered an advantage for a team to play at home. Everything is familiar and the fans are rooting for the home team. This weekend, Noah Gragson gets to experience that feeling racing at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Although he has never turned a lap at the 1.5-mile oval, he started his career racing next door at The Bullring. In fact, he won there earlier this month. Will the home field advantage help Gragson achieve his first win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Saturday night? He sure hopes so.

Gragson began racing Bandoleros and eventually late models there at the age of 13 at The Bullring. He earned 14 wins there, including the most recent one on Sept. 9 in the 50-lap NASCAR Super Late Model race. If Gragson can take the checkered flag in the Las Vegas 350, it would also be a hometown win for his owner, Kyle Busch. Much like Gragson, Busch began his driving career shortly after his 13th birthday at The Bullring. From 1999 through 2001, Busch won over 65 races in legends cars and two track championships there, before moving up to late models. Busch scored 10 victories in late model competition at The Bullring during the 2001 season.

Not only is Las Vegas the hometown of Gragson and Busch, but also the team’s sponsor, Switch. Founded in 2000, this global technology solutions company, headquartered in Las Vegas, is built on the intelligent and sustainable growth of the internet. Switch Founder and CEO Rob Roy has developed more than 260 patent and patent-pending claims covering data center designs that have manifested into the company’s world-renowned data centers and technology solution ecosystems. Gragson and the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports team will tour the Switch facility on Friday before getting to work at the track on Saturday.

Gragson is looking forward to his first race under the lights at the big track, after seeing it in the distance from The Bullring early in his career. He will have 146 laps to enjoy the home-track advantage and knowing he is the local favorite. It will be a night he won’t soon forget, especially if he can cap it off with his first NCWTS win.

Noah Gragson, Driver of the No. 18 NCWTS Switch Tundra:

What would it mean to win your first race at Las Vegas in front of your hometown crowd?

“That would be the coolest thing I’ve ever done. It would mean everything to me since I’ll have a lot of family, friends and Switch employees at the race supporting me. There is no better place to do it than under the lights at Vegas. It will be my first time racing on the big track. I’ve never even made a lap around there in a pace car, or anything. Winning there would be really, really cool.”

Do you have anything special planned for your team while they are visiting your hometown?

“Since they don’t have to be at the track on Friday, we are all going to tour the Switch facility located in Las Vegas so they can learn about and see what an amazing facility it is. Then they are going to Speed Vegas in the afternoon to drive some pretty incredible cars. I can’t wait to hang out with my guys in my hometown and show them why I love it here so much. It will be a great chance to have some fun together before we get back to work at the track on Saturday.”

Will you get to spend some time at home while you are in town for the race?

“I flew to Vegas on Monday afternoon so I could sign autographs at a trade show and have dinner with some sponsors. I think my Mom made a dentist appointment for me while I’m home, which won’t be a highlight of the trip. I’ve got some media appearances with the track on Thursday and Friday. I’ll be up early Thursday going to a few local radio and television stations around town, and then going with a few of the other drivers to the Golden Knight’s practice facility to learn a bit about hockey. Growing up in Vegas I haven’t been around too much ice, so that should be interesting.”

Marcus Richmond, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NCWTS Switch Tundra:

You have raced in Las Vegas several times, but is it different when it’s the driver’s hometown?

“I think it’s pretty cool to go to a driver’s hometown track. He’ll have a lot of family and friends in the stands, and it’s actually Switch’s home track too since they are based in Las Vegas and Reno. There will be a lot of people there cheering for us and hopefully we’ll have a good showing for everyone involved. I know it would mean the world to Noah to get his first win there.”

Noah Gragson’s No. 18 Switch Tundra:

KBM-042: The No. 18 Switch team will race KBM-042, for Saturday’s Las Vegas 350. Gragson has raced this truck four times this season resulting in one top-five and three top-10 finishes.

 

KBM-42Performance Profile

Starts

Wins

Average Start

Average Finish

Laps Led

 5

0

10.0

8.8

32

 

Notes of Interest:

 

Noah Gragson 2017:

  • Earned his best NCWTS finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., when he finished second on 9/3

  • Earned his first top-five finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series by finishing fourth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April. He also finished fifth at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in July

  • Won first career NCWTS pole at Texas Motor Speedway on 6/9, second at Iowa Speedway on 6/23 and third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on 9/23

  • Has posted three top-five and 11-top 10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.5 across 17 NCWTS starts this season

  • Competed in the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., earning one top-five and two top-10 finishes

Noah Gragson 2016:

  • Made first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in November where he completed all the laps to finish 16th. Finished 15th the following week at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway

  • Returned to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where he earned two wins, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 14 starts to finish third in the driver point standings

  • Competed in 13 of 14 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races claiming two wins, four top-five and six top-10 finishes

Noah Gragson 2015

  • Finished second in the final NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver point standings as a rookie after posting two wins, one pole, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 13 starts

  • Claimed his first victory at Tucson (Ariz.) Speedway battling with his teammate for the win

  • Recorded first career pole and led 176 laps to win at Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho

Noah Gragson 2014

  • Started racing Bandoleros at The Bullring at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway

  • Moved up to compete in Late Models

  • Competed in the INEX Legends car racing series, winning the 2014 Young Lion Road Course championship

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 18 Tundra:

  • The No. 18 team is currently 13th in owner points and 11th in driver points after collecting three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes this season

  • Five members of this year’s No. 18 Tundra team were a part of last year’s No. 4 Tundra team which collected one win, 197 laps led, nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes across 23 starts and made the inaugural Championship Four in the Chase

KBM NCWTS Program

  • Holds the NCWTS records for most career wins (64), most wins in a single season (14 in 2014) and most Owner’s championships (five)

  • Erik Jones earned the organization its first-ever NCWTS Driver’s championship in 2015

  • Has collected 64 wins, 35 poles, 151 top-five and 244 top-10 finishes across 402 starts since originating in 2010

  • Nine different drivers have won a race for KBM, led by owner-driver Kyle Busch with 33. Christopher Bell, Erik Jones and William Byron have each collected seven victories, Darrell Wallace Jr., has five wins, Denny Hamlin has produced two victories while Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne and Brian Scott each collected one trophy

  • With Bell’s victory at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway KBM has at least one win at all 21 tracks on the 2017 NCWTS schedule

KBM NCWTS @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway

  • KBM drivers have collected one win, 127 laps led, four top-five and eight top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.9 across 14 starts at the 1.5-mile oval

  • Erik Jones collected KBM’s lone victory in the 2014 event, while Darrell Wallace Jr., led a race-high 84 laps and finished in the runner-up position to make it a one-two finish for KBM

Richmond’s Record:

Entering the 2017 season, Marcus Richmond had collected nine wins, 11 poles, 52 top-five and 107 top-10 finishes across 222 races in his 11 seasons as a crew chief in the Truck Series. The veteran crew chief has been to victory lane with five different drivers (Ty Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter and Dennis Setzer) and has recorded at least one win every year since 2012. The North Carolina native’s drivers have finished inside the top five in the Truck Series championship standings four times in the last five seasons, including a runner-up finish in the standings with Ty Dillon in 2012. His most recent stop was at JR Motorsports last season, where he guided Cole Custer to two poles, four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes over the last 16 races of 2016. Richmond joined KBM in December 2016 to coach rookie Noah Gragson in 2017.

Richmond has four top-five and six top-10 finishes in 10 starts as a NCWTS crew chief at Las Vegas. His teams’ best finish was second with driver Timothy Peters in 2015.

 

Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra 2017 NCWTS Box Score:

Date

Site

Driver

Start

Finish

Laps

Laps Led

Status

Driver Pts./Pos.

2/24

Daytona

Gragson

12

26

1/100

0

Accident

11/22nd

3/4

Atlanta

Gragson

10

14

130/130

0

Running

34/17th

4/1

Martinsville

Gragson

9

4

250/250

0

Running

70/11th

5/12

Kansas

Gragson

4

28

68/167

0

Clutch

79/13th

5/19

Charlotte

Gragson

15

9

134/134

0

Running

111/13th

6/2

Dover

Gragson

8

9

199/200

0

Running

145/10th

6/9

Texas

Gragson

1

7

167/167

13

Running

181/10th

6/17

Gateway

Gragson

7

9

160/160

0

Running

209/10th

6/23

Iowa

Gragson

1

6

200/200

16

Running

255/9th

7/6

Kentucky

Gragson

11

5

150/150

32

Running

299/9th

7/19

Eldora

Gragson

10

7

150/150

0

Running

329/9th

7/29

Pocono

Gragson

8

24

39/60

0

Accident

345/9th

8/12

Michigan

Gragson

5

7

100/100

0

Running

382/9th

8/16

Bristol

Gragson

4

15

202/203

0

Running

418/9th

9/3

Canadian Tire

Gragson

6

2

64/64

0

Running

458/9th

9/15

Chicago

Gragson

6

8

150/150

0

Running

489/11th

9/23

New Hampshire

Gragson

1

15

174/175

40

Running

519/11th

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!