Kyle Busch will be going green this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon when he returns for the fourth of six races with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) founding sponsor Interstate Batteries’ familiar green-and-white striped Toyota Camry.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for JGR. heads into Sunday’s Foxwoods Casino Resort 301 looking to continue his torrid pace this Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season by adding yet another notch to the win column at one of his most successful tracks. 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 career victory in NASCAR top three touring series. Busch has four Cup Series wins so far this season, a number matched only among Cup Series competitors by JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr.
The New Hampshire track affectionately dubbed the “Magic Mile” has certainly lived up to its billing for Busch. In 2015, he and his team used hard work and a little bit of luck to bring home what would be his second of three Cup Series wins in a row during a summer hot streak that would ultimately springboard him to that year’s Cup Series championship.
The 2015 New Hampshire victory was Busch’s second Cup Series win on the 1.058-mile oval, the first coming in just his third start there in July 2006, and in dominating fashion as he led 107 laps. After that 2006 win, the Las Vegas native left with plenty of confidence that he could get multiple New Hampshire wins as his career progressed. As it turned out, he was winless there over the next 17 races, which included a number of near-misses.
Still, the driver of the Interstate Batteries Toyota posted five top-five finishes in those 17 starts between New Hampshire wins, including three runner-up finishes in a row in 2013 and 2014 before breaking through for the aforementioned 2015 win, and then adding his first playoff victory at the track in September 2017 after leading 187 of the 300 laps in an impressive performance. In all, Busch has 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 27 starts at New Hampshire.
This part of the season happens to be the hottest for Cup Series competitors with many race venues seeing higher July temperatures, which is also the case for race fans heading out on their vacation 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.
So, as NASCAR’s top series heads to the Northeast for Sunday’s 301-mile race, Busch will look to rekindle the magic he last enjoyed during this time of year in 2015. There will be plenty of Interstate Batteries distributors and dealers across New England cheering him on as he looks to add yet another New Hampshire win to his resume.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Do you expect New Hampshire to be similar to Phoenix in how difficult it is to pass?
“It’s going to be hard to pass. It’s always hard to pass at New Hampshire, so I don’t know how it will be much better or much worse. I’m not certain if they’re spraying (with chemicals to enhance traction). I imagine they are for that top groove and that bottom groove, so the middle is left undone. Since doing that, that’s kind of livened up the racetrack, I feel like, the last couple of years. It’s actually made it a bit more racey, especially on restarts and such, where you’re not just so tense and on-edge and feeling like you’re on ice to not slide into the guy around you. We’ll work on getting a good starting position with our Interstate Batteries Camry there, would like nothing more than to celebrate with all the Interstate dealers and distributors around New England if we can get back to victory lane there.”
Was the racing any different at New Hampshire last year since it’s no longer part of the playoffs?
“It didn’t seem to be much different. I think that Loudon sometimes is a more challenging racetrack to pass people on, but we’ve had a lot of success there and think we will again this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Toyota. There is more time or opportunity for slipping and sliding and contact being made, being a short track, being a flat track. So maybe guys won’t care as much, I guess, because it’s not in the playoffs and they don’t really need notes to help them try and run better there when it comes to playoff time. We’ll see.”
What does it take to be successful at New Hampshire?
“Loudon is a Martinsville-like short track, but it’s just over a mile. It’s a little more spread out, but there’s some rooting and gouging going on because it’s a one-lane track and everybody fights for that particular groove. To be fast at Loudon, you have to have good brakes and you have to roll the center really well and get that good forward bite off the corners and make sure it sticks. The biggest thing about Loudon is, you keep losing front turn-in and that’s why the brakes go away, just because the corners are longer and more sweeping than you need to keep those front tires around you.”
The New Hampshire race is one of the shortest on the circuit. How do you approach that race knowing you might have a little less time to get to the front at the end?
“Essentially, at Loudon, you’re looking at how good your fuel mileage is and you have to look at when you have to make your last pit stop since that’s what everyone looks at. You end up running it almost like a road-course race because you do want to be the first guy on the last round of pit stops to pit. You want to get in there, get your tires and fuel, and then stay out the rest of the race and keep your track position since it’s so important there. It’s just a challenging race because it’s so hard to pass there. You can be two-tenths faster than a guy and not be able to pass him because everyone typically runs the same speed. You’ll have it where the leader might be a tenth better than the second-place guy, but everyone is separated by so little that it takes a mistake on someone’s part in order to pass them there.”
When you make a mistake at Loudon, does it cost you a little bit more because you have less time to recover?
“You don’t because you’re always on edge there. You’re trying to go as fast as you can into the corners, as deep as you can into the corners while rolling as much speed, or just a bit higher than everyone else so you are able to get back to the gas sooner. You’re going harder than everyone else in order to make the straightaway a little bit longer and get your momentum built back up. It’s definitely a challenging racetrack – not one of my best racetracks, I’ll admit that. I’ve won there twice so, if we get a good car – I guess I’ll need to have a really good car, apparently – then we might have a shot to win there.”
Interstate Batteries Racing
Race 20 of 36 – Foxwoods Casino Resort 301– New Hampshire
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 New Hampshire 300 will mark Kyle Busch’s 518th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 28th NASCAR Cup Series start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
Busch has career totals of 55 wins, 31 poles, 194 top-five finishes, 285 top-10s and 16,691 laps led in 517 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 three wins, 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s and has led a total of 1,009 laps in 27 Cup Series starts at New Hampshire. Busch’s average New Hampshire finish is 12.8.
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.
206: Busch enters the weekend at New Hampshire 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!