Kyle Busch Could Add His Name To The IMS History Books

Kyle Busch

 Anyone who has followed Kyle Busch’s NASCAR career knows he likes to make history.

So as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 24th annual Brickyard 400, the driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will look to add himself to an elite list of stock car winners at the 2.5-mile oval.

After winning last year’s 400-miler, Busch become only the second driver to win back-to-back Brickyard 400s at Indianapolis. The only other driver to do so, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, accomplished the feat in 2008 and 2009.

There are relatively few winners of multiple Brickyard 400s to begin with in the race’s 23-year history. Just four drivers reside on that list, and Busch, who loves being a part of history, would love to add his name as the first driver to win three Brickyard 400s in a row on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval. Busch could then set his sights on five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, who scored his wins in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2014, and four-time winner Johnson, who brought home victories in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012. He’ll also look to best Indiana native Tony Stewart, who won in 2005 and 2007, and Dale Jarrett, who won in 1996 and 1999, in total victories at the Brickyard.

Even the iconic Indianapolis 500, which was won four times each by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears, has never seen a driver win three times in a row. However, Formula One’s Michael Shumacher won the United States Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course four years in a row from 2003 to 2006.

While Busch has an impressive 10 top-10 finishes in 12 starts at Indianapolis for an average finish of 9.0 – second among active drivers – he has always been a front-runner there. But until he led the final 19 laps in his first Brickyard 400 victory in 2015 and a whopping 149 of the 170 laps in last year’s victory, Busch had led just 42 laps there prior to 2015. In addition to his strong Cup Series record at Indianapolis, he also has two wins and three top-five finishes in the four Xfinity Series races he’s contested at Indianapolis thus far.

Sunday’s race at Indianapolis also marks the return of the popular, red Skittles paint scheme for the No. 18 Toyota. Along with Busch’s hopes of kissing the famed “Yard of Bricks” yet again Sunday afternoon – a tradition for the winning driver and his team at the century-old speedway – fans will also be able to “Taste the Rainbow” one more time this season as the Skittles car will be on track in September at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Busch, who counts Green Apple Skittles among his personal favorite, already competed in the red Skittles scheme at Phoenix International Raceway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway this past spring.

So it goes without saying, Busch would like nothing more than to enjoy the taste of Skittles along the famous Yard of Bricks for the third year in a row, since while twice is nice, the third time would be a part of stock car history at Indianapolis.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
Is it still important to a driver that, before you leave NASCAR, you win a Daytona 500, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400?

“It is. It certainly was for us a few years ago and again last year. I think that, for myself and the 18 team, winning there (at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) with Skittles two years in a row was thrilling. It was really special as a whole team and they treat it very special there, as well, with the whole ceremony postrace and everything that goes on there with taking the ride around the track and the owner being with you – J.D. (Gibbs) was there a few years ago. That was pretty cool. It is a big deal. I feel like it is for us. For our team, we circle it on the calendar every year – that’s one we want to win. We always circle the Daytona 500, the Coke 600, the All-Star Race, the Brickyard 400, the Southern 500 and Homestead. We crossed another one off that list earlier this year by winning the All-Star Race. There’s probably a couple more in there that you want to win, such as any one race within each round of the playoffs. You want to win any of those to get yourselves locked in and moving on to the next round just to solidify your chances of being able to win a championship. But, it’s obviously a big race and I guess it still pays pretty decent, so you might as well win it.”

What makes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so special for you as a driver?

“I think the biggest thing about the Brickyard is the prestige, the track’s history and quality of racing – all the historic finishes it’s had over the years, whether it has been IndyCar or NASCAR. To me, it’s a special place to go to because of its heritage of being Indianapolis. Every guy in NASCAR and, especially every guy in IndyCar, they want to win there. Getting our Skittles Camry to victory lane there three years in a row would be special for a lot of reasons.”

What’s your favorite Brickyard 400 moment from either watching or participating over the years that didn’t involve you?

“I think my favorite moment from over the years, besides our win there, was probably the first one. I just remember Jeff Gordon being my favorite driver. It was his second full-time season in 1994 and he went to victory lane there in the inaugural race. I think that was pretty cool and pretty special for someone who grew up being a fan of Jeff Gordon.”

What does it mean to you to race at Indianapolis?

“Indianapolis is a really cool place. It’s got a lot of history. I know the history is not all NASCAR – most of it is IndyCar – but it’s one of America’s oldest speedways. The prestige of winning there is a big deal. It’s a unique place to race. If you are back in traffic, it’s a little more frustrating because it can be hard to pass there. But, if you have a fast racecar, being able to cut the middle and get down the long, fast straightaways is important there. We’ve run well there the past couple of times. We haven’t qualified well, though, and I think we need to focus on qualifying when we get there and, if we can do that, we will be a heck of a lot better off for the race with our Skittles Camry.”

How do you feel going into Indianapolis with this rules package and stage racing?

“It’s going to be interesting. I look forward to Indianapolis every year now. We’ve certainly picked up on something the last couple of years that has made us really good there and we’ve been fast over the years, but it’s just the last two years have been really good for us. I certainly hope we can take the same powerful equipment and car and everything and have a good shot at being able to win that race. We would certainly like to get it three in a row. That would be nice. That would be special. That would be something unprecedented, something no one’s ever done, so I look forward to that and seeing what this new aero package at Indy has in store for us with our Skittles Camry.”

Is there something you’ve figured out there or have you just run well there?

“I think it’s a little bit of both. I think I figured a little bit of something out, but I also think that me figuring something out has helped us be able to develop our car better, too, you know? Like setup-wise, I know what I need within the car now that makes you faster at Indy than at what I had been running in the past.”

What is it about Indianapolis Motor Speedway that makes it unique compared to other tracks the NASCAR Cup Series visits?

“It’s very tight down the straightaways. You roll through (turns) one and two and there are people on the inside, there are people on the outside, there are people in the grass, just sitting along the back straightaway on the inside. You’ve got the golf course there, and fans sitting on the hills underneath the trees. You start back up into turn three, with the grandstands going around (turns) three and four, and then down the frontstretch and, again, there are two tunnels. There’s a tunnel at the (turns) one and two side, and on the (turns) three and four side. There’s a center road that runs all the way through and then, coming down the frontstretch again, looking on both sides of you, you’ve got the pit road, which is really narrow and really tight, and the grandstands on the inside and the outside. So, you’re going down a ‘V’ of just people – a sea of people. Coming to the Pagoda and the media center, the way it is, and of course the scoring pylon being as tall as it is, you come down there and, if you’re leading the race, sometimes you can’t see that high, so you’re kind of wondering who is second and third, or who is behind you. It stinks when you’re running in the back because you can see yourself (car number) right there.”

Skittles Racing

Race 20 of 36 – Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis

Car No.: 18 – Skittles 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: 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: Kenny Barber

Hometown: Hoosick Falls, New York

 

Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara

Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio

 

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 Brickyard 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 446th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 13th NASCAR Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • Busch has career totals of 38 wins, 21 poles, 154 top-five finishes, 229 top-10s and 13,309 laps led in 445 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came in July 2016 at Indianapolis, when he brought home his second consecutive win at the historic 2.5-mile oval. Busch’s most recent pole, the 22nd of his career, came two weekends ago at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
  • Busch has two wins, five top-five finishes and 10 top-10s and has led a total of 210 laps in 12 career Cup Series starts at Indianapolis. Busch’s average Indianapolis finish is 9.0.
  • 13,000: After leading 100 laps at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last month, Busch bested the 13,000 mark in laps led in NASCAR’s top series. With his 13,309 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 in May’s 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 175 and Counting: Busch enters Indianapolis with 175 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (38), Xfinity (89) and Truck (48) following his NASCAR Xfinity Series win last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

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

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