Kyle Busch Looks To Add Another Daytona Victory To His Totals

Kyle Busch

 As a winner of 38 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races – which are included in his 153 top-five finishes and 228 top-10s – as well as the leader of more than 13,000 laps in 442 career starts, it’s safe to say 32-year-old Kyle Busch has earned his stripes in his 13th full season competing in NASCAR’s top circuit.

So it’s only fitting the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will don a unique green-and-white-striped livery for Saturday night’s traditional midsummer Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Not only are JGR and Interstate Batteries in their 26th year together, but this weekend’s race will help continue the year-long celebration of the 65th anniversary for Interstate Batteries as a company.

Busch and the No. 18 team look to add another victory to his overall total Saturday night at Daytona during Interstate’s 65th anniversary year, heading to the 2.5-mile superspeedway with a little momentum on their side as they come off a strong fifth-place finish at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Despite looking for his first points-paying victory of the season, it’s yet another step in the right direction for Busch as NASCAR’s playoffs get closer by the week.

He did bring home the win in the NASCAR All-Star Race back in May, but he’s been kept from victory lane in the points-paying races for various reasons. Busch has led double-digit numbers of laps in six of the last seven races and has led a total of 746 laps, the second most in the series behind fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr., while he sits fourth in the regular-season standings.

When it comes to Daytona this weekend, Busch is certainly no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero 400, having won the July 2008 race behind the wheel of – yes – the Interstate Batteries Toyota. The Las Vegas native has fared much better in his summer races at Daytona during his career as the track is much more slick thanks to Florida’s July heat. He has five top-five finishes in his 12 July starts at the track.

With all of that on his side, Busch hopes sporting the unique color scheme helps his cause in this restrictor-plate style of racing, where a driver not only has to be good, but must have good fortune to go along with it. He would like nothing more than to start July in the best way possible – by bringing the Interstate Batteries green-and-white-striped paint scheme to victory lane Saturdaynight. Even though Busch has earned his stripes already, it doesn’t mean he isn’t as hungry as ever for another victory.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
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 yourself 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 Batteries Camry this weekend. Interstate Batteries has quite the legacy with JGR and I’m always proud to represent those guys and we hope to get a win for Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) and get them a win during their 65th anniversary year.”

As you head to the third restrictor-plate race of the year this weekend, how do you assess your performances on those tracks?

“On the plus side, we’ve qualified better on the plate tracks the last couple of years, and that’s because of a lot of hard work by everyone at JGR and by TRD (Toyota Racing Development) in getting us the stuff we need to do better in qualifying at plate tracks. Our plate stuff in the draft has always been good, and we’ve had good cars both races this year. We were able to run up front at Daytona in February until we had the issue there. And, at Talladega in May, we almost had a win, so that’s encouraging for this season so far on the plate tracks. There is so much that you just aren’t in control of and you have to find good fortune, somehow.”

What are some of the better safety improvements you’ve seen in the last couple of years?

“I think, of course, the things Daytona has done with the SAFER Barrier along the whole outside and inside of the racetrack. There are too many different areas on these racing surfaces where we can get out of control and crash into things. We’ve seen that over the years – I think most notably maybe Mark Martin at Michigan several years ago, getting caught on that inside pit wall. We tend to find about anywhere to hit, so it’s just a matter of trying to protect ourselves as well as the race fans and our crew members as best as possible.”

It’s taken a number of years to earn your stripes. How have you changed with you now in the midst of your 13th full season in th NASCAR Cup Series?

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long in my career at all. Yet, when you look back at life outside of racing, you think, ‘OK, I was 18 when I came in here – holy crap a lot of things have gone on and changed over 13 years.’ It certainly seems like a whole different world, not only for me in it, but just a whole different world in general. So much has changed since then with not only social media, but just in my career. The past year has been eventful, to say the least, but I feel like I’m stronger because of it. It’s been neat to win one of the crown jewel races at Indy the last two years and also the All-Star race this year, and then also be able to win my first Cup Series championship. Hopefully I can cross a few more goals off the list in the coming years and be fortunate enough to win more championships. I know I have the team and people around me that are capable of helping us do that.”

Interstate Batteries Racing

Race 17 of 36 – Coke Zero 400 – Daytona

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

 

Car Chief: Nate Bellows

Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont

 

Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana

 

Spotter: Tony Hirschman

Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania

Over-The-Wall Crew Members:

Gas Man: Tom Lampe

Hometown: Beatrice, Nebraska

 

Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie

Hometown: Mount Clemens, Michigan

 

Jackman: TJ Ford

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

 

Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy

Hometown: Orange County, Virginia

 

Rear Tire Carrier: Anwar Parrish

Hometown: Shelby, North Carolina

 

Rear Tire Changer: Adam Hartman

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 Coke Zero 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 443rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 25th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
  • Busch has career totals of 38 wins, 21 poles, 153 top-five finishes, 228 top-10s and 13,102 laps led in 442 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came in July 2016 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when he brought home his second consecutive win at the historic 2.5-mile oval. Busch’s most recent pole, the 21st of his career, came three races ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
  • Busch has one win, seven top-five finishes and eight top-10s and has led a total of 382 laps in 24 career Cup Series starts at Daytona. Busch’s average Daytona finish is18.4.
  • 13,000: After leading 100 laps at Pocono three weeks ago, Busch bested the 13,000 mark in laps led in NASCAR’s top series. With his 13,099 Cup Series laps led, Busch is just the 11th driver to best the 13,000 mark.
  • All-Star Winner: While it wasn’t a points-paying race, Busch brought home a Cup Series victory last month in the All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. 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 high was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
  • Almost: Busch drove to his first Daytona Cup Series runner-up finish in July 2007, taking the checkered flag behind race-winner Jamie McMurray by a mere .005 of a second in a drag race to the finish line.
  • No More ‘Almost:’ Busch finally earned his first Cup Series win at Daytona in the July 2008 Coke Zero 400, driving the Interstate Batteries Toyota. Busch was just ahead of Carl Edwards when the caution came out for a multicar accident in turn one on lap 162 during a green-white-checkered finish. Busch was declared the winner by NASCAR officials when it was determined his car was in the lead when the caution came out to end the race.
  • Non-Points Wins at Daytona: In addition to his 2008 Cup Series win at Daytona, Busch has four wins in Cup Series non-points events at the “World Center of Racing.” Those wins include what’s now called the Can-Am Duel at Daytona qualifying races in 2009, 2013, and 2016, as well as a win in the Clash at Daytona in 2012.
  • Spin and Win, Twice: In the aforementioned 2012 win in the Clash at Daytona, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart coming to the finish line on the final lap. Busch won by .013 of a second, the closest finish in the history of the non-points race. It was incredible that Busch was even in position to win as, earlier in the race, he had to save himself from a pair of major collisions by putting on a phenomenal display of driving skill on both occasions.
  • 38 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Indianapolis last July, the 38th points-paying win of his career, Busch is tied for 19th on the all-time Cup Series win list with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth.
  • Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 21 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only two tracks he has yet to conquer in the Cup Series are Charlotte and Pocono. Busch, of course, was the winner of last month’s All-Star non-points race at Charlotte. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of Busch’s last six Cup Series wins have been his first at each track in NASCAR’s top series (Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas). Of the 21 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
  • All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 win last July, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 34 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33.
  • 173 and Counting: Busch enters Daytona with 173 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (38), Xfinity (87) and Truck (48) following his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win last month at Charlotte.

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

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