For many Americans, the week of July 4th is a time to take a break and recharge the batteries from the daily grind while also celebrating Independence Day with family and friends.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will be recharging his batteries in a different way, most notably wheeling the “Outrageously Dependable” colors of the longtime JGR partner in Saturday night’s traditional midsummer Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Along with recharging the batteries near the beach to celebrate the July 4th holiday, the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion knows he will not only need to beat his fellow competitors, but also the Florida summer heat. This part of the season happens to be the hottest for Cup Series competitors, with select race venues seeing record temperatures, and also for those who are heading out on their summer road trips. The summer months can be taxing on both man and machine, whether it’s on the highway or at the track. Caring for the latter is one of the ways JGR founding partner Interstate Batteries leverages its NASCAR program, reminding consumers to have their batteries checked during the hot summer months at a local dealer prior to their summer road trips.
Interstate Batteries’ colors are already in the win column in 2019 via Busch’s March victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, which also happened to mark his 200th overall NASCAR victory. With his four wins so far this, only JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. has as many wins as Busch as the Interstate Batteries team will look to add another victory Saturday night at Daytona.
Busch is certainly no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero Sugar 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, when the track is much more slick thanks to Florida’s July heat. He has five top-five finishes in his 15 July starts at the track.
With all of that on his side, Busch hopes to have a strong car and track position in pack-style 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 Saturday night.
Even though Busch is focused on beating the rest of the field, he and Interstate Batteries will not only look to beat the heat during the remaining months of summer, but recharge the batteries in his favorite place – victory lane.
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 July race. 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. We came so close to my first Daytona 500 win in February, so I would really like to finish the deal this weekend and get to victory lane – that’s always the goal. Hoping all the fans go out and get their batteries checked with the summer heat upon us now, especially the last couple of weeks. Interstate Batteries has quite the legacy with JGR and I’m always proud to represent those guys, so we hope to get a win for Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman).”
What do you do to prep for the night race at Daytona?
“It’s going to be a hot one. Right now, it’s all about getting your fluids back in you throughout the entire week. You’re not going to get them all back in one or two nights. It’s going to take the entirety of a week. You’ll start over again after that race. It’s Daytona. A lot of different planning goes into that. I think we’ll be down in Florida already for the Fourth of July. Hopefully, there are some pretty good firework shows. We’ll check it out.”
When you look at guys who have won superspeedway races in the last few years, it seems there are those who win more often than not. Why are they winning more at the two superspeedways?
“You’ve got to be good, but there’s still a lot of luck involved. You’ve got to be out front. When your cars are fast, you need to do a good job, you know how to lead it, get yourself through traffic, you’ll be out front a lot of the time. The 2 car (Brad Keselowski) is very hard to pass, he’s very fast. When those guys are out front, they seem to be able to control the race. Last year – I think it was a Duel, maybe the Clash at Daytona – Denny (Hamlin) was trying to go for the lead, get to his inside and pass him. No, Denny was leading, trying to hold Brad off, and they ended up crashing. So hard to hold those fast cars back, if you will. They do a good job of being able to predict the lines and how they build the inertia and everything behind them.”
Is there a skill and an art to anticipating and making a move?
“Yeah, I don’t ever really think about when something is going to happen. That’s a spur‑of‑the‑moment thing, it just does happen. As far as being able to make your way, make your maneuvers and things like that, Brad and Denny are probably two of the best at being able to do that. I try to watch a little bit what they do and how they do it. I’m just not very good at emulating that. They have a really good sense of what’s going on behind them, how they can make the lines kind of build up that inertia, that pressure, it kind of shoots them forward. The only thing I see behind me is a car. I can’t really see what’s going on three, four deep. Any time I try to back it up and stall it in order to get that inertia or get that run going, somebody just pulls out and wants to pass me.”
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.”
Interstate Batteries Racing
Race 18 of 36 – Coke Zero Sugar 400 – Daytona
Car No.: 18 – Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry
Teammates: Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota Camry; Martin Truex Jr. – No. 19 Toyota Camry; Erik Jones – 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: Tyler Allen
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Spotter: Tony Hirschman
Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Matt Tyrrell
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Front Tire Changer: Cam Waugh
Hometown: Johnstown, Colorado
Jackman: T.J. Ford
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Joe Crossen
Hometown: Salisbury, North Carolina
Rear Tire Changer: Jeff Cordero
Hometown: Salem, Connecticut
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
Mechanic: Wesley Lape
Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
Race Engineer: William Hartman
Hometown: Laingsburg, Michigan
Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase
Hometown: Nichols, New York
Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones
Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Interior Mechanic: Todd Foster
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Notes of Interest:
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will mark Kyle Busch’s 516th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 29th NASCAR Cup Series start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Busch has career totals of 55 wins, 31 poles, 193 top-five finishes, 284 top-10s and 16,616 laps led in 515 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came last month at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 30th of his career, came in October at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Busch has one win, eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s and has led a total of 420 laps in 28 Cup Series points-paying starts at Daytona. Busch’s average Daytona finish is 18.6.
55 Career Cup Series Wins:
With his Cup Series win at Pocono, the 55th points-paying win of his career, Busch sits tied for ninth all-time in Cup Series wins with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace. With his 40th Cup Series victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August 2017, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup Series wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon and Herb Thomas.
All-Time JGR Wins Leader:
With his Brickyard 400 win in July 2016, Busch passed Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 51 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33 following his most recent win at Bristol, along with besting Stewart’s Cup Series career win total.
Busch enters the weekend at Daytona with 206 wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (55), Xfinity (95) and Truck (56) – following his most recent Cup Series win at Pocono.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!