Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kyle Busch Takes NASCAR Points Lead To Texas

Kyle Busch leads the Cup series in points due to consistency
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 5, 2011) – A few years ago, Kyle Busch might not have been driver people associated with the word consistency. But now, just six races into the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for 2011, nobody has been more consistent than the talented 25-year-old.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has already posted four finishes of third or better – a solid start that has vaulted him to the series points lead as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500.

The Las Vegas native has been a fixture at the front of the field thus far this season, having already led a series-high 481 laps. That’s more than all but eight drivers led during the entire 2010 season when Busch, himself, led 1,271 laps, second only to Jimmie Johnson’s 1,315.

Last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Busch became the ninth driver in Sprint Cup history to lead at least 150 laps in three straight races and the first since Jeff Gordon accomplished the feat in 1995. Busch’s remarkable consistency over the last three races started with his 153 laps led en route to victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. He followed up that performance with back-to-back races with 151 laps led and third-place finishes at both Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. and Martinsville.

After bringing Dallas-based Interstate Batteries to victory lane at its hometown track for the first time last November in the Camping World Truck Series race, Busch will attempt to bring Interstate Batteries’ new “white hot” paint scheme that celebrates the company’s 20-year partnership with JGR back to that very same spot this weekend.

In addition to seeking Interstate’s first Sprint Cup win at its home track, Busch hopes to also notch his first Sprint Cup win in the Lone Star State. He’s come close to his first Texas Sprint Cup win in recent years as he has four finishes of sixth or better in his last seven outings at the 1.5-mile oval.

So, as Busch focuses his mind on notching his first Sprint Cup win in the Lone Star State this weekend, chances are he’ll be in the hunt yet again, based on the strong start to his season. After all, he knows full well that consistency has always been the key to putting oneself in position for race wins and, more importantly, contention for the season-ending championship at NASCAR’s top level.

When do you start looking at where you are in the points? “I think you actually want to try to do that sooner rather than later. It’s about Charlotte time – about the end of May, when you get into the season and you look at where you’re at. You’re about going to be where you’re going to be when you come down to Chase time. You kind of look at Charlotte and kind of evaluate where you’re at. You could pretty much say you’re either going to be four positions better or five positions worse once you get down to Chase time and Loudon, which is actually Chicago this year. It can go either way. If you’re really good, you can be four better. If you kind of hit a roadblock and have some bad races, you can probably be about five worse. That’s how we look at it. Right now, we are leading the points, which is great, but I don’t even watch or even pay attention to them right now. If you have good results like we have been having, then they’ll take care of themselves.”

Kyle Busch is looking for first Texas win
Can you be a great driver without being an aggressive driver? “You can certainly be aggressive but also successful, as well. It kind of depends on who all you’re racing, sometimes – how hard you’re racing those guys, sometimes. Certainly, there are some drivers out there with different dynamics about how to approach this place and some are aggressive, some are not so aggressive, some are smooth, some are erratic, and I think I’m about all of those, somewhere in-between.”

You’ve had success at Texas Motor Speedway, recently. Are you getting more comfortable there each time you go back? “It used to not be so much. I had some wild races there early on in my career and it wasn’t one of my favorite places, for whatever reason. Things have gone well, recently. Obviously, the Nationwide Series wins the last several years and getting the win in the Truck Series the last couple of years have been real confidence-boosters there. I have sort of learned how to drive it a little bit better and I know what I need in my racecar to make it easier. The cars that JGR has given me since I joined the team have also been a confidence-booster there. I can’t seem to get that win in Cup that’s eluded me, even though we’ve been close. So, hopefully, that’s something we can change this weekend. Not only would I like to get my first win at Texas, but getting Norm (Miller, Interstate Batteries chairman) a win there would be even more special.”

Thus far, is there any difference with your team this year that makes you believe you can win the championship? “I think the biggest thing that’s different with us is just having a full year under my belt with Dave Rogers (crew chief), and now we’ve had a season with that year’s worth of experience of working with Dave and we’re trying to reach our potential and little bit more this year. Unfortunately, we’ve kind of fallen shy of that the past few years. This is the year we’d like to change that and make it to where we get through the regular season OK and get to the Chase and then, once we get into the Chase, we stay consistent with what we’re doing. Then, if we can make it through without things happening or getting involved in wrecks or something like that, where we can have a shot come Homestead. It’s been hard to lead a lot of laps the last few weeks and not have wins to show for it, but you also have to look at how strong we’ve run, so that’s a really encouraging sign at this point.”

This chassis will make it fourth-ever start in Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. In its first start last September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Busch started ninth and finished ninth. The No. 18 team brought No. 283 back for the AAA Texas 500 at Texas last November, where Busch started 29th and finished a disappointing 32nd. Most recently, Busch competed with this chassis in the Ford 400 Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he started
33rd but finished 32nd after being spun and making hard contact with the frontstretch inside retaining wall while running in the top-five late in the 400-mile race.

* The Samsung Mobile 500 will mark Busch’s 229th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his 13th Sprint Cup start at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
* Busch has career totals of 20 wins, seven poles, 70 top-fives, 108 top-10s and 6,153 laps led in 228 career Sprint Cup races. His most recent Sprint Cup win came three weekends ago at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. His last pole came 29 races ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
* Busch has no wins, no poles, four top-five and five top-10 finishes and has led a total of 441 laps in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas. His average finish is 16.2 at the 1.5-mile oval.
* In addition to his 441 Sprint Cup laps led at Texas, Busch has led 1,187 laps in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and 274 laps in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Texas.
* Busch is now just 86 laps shy of the 20,000 career laps-led mark across NASCAR’s top three series. He currently sits at 19,914 career laps led among all three series after leading 215 combined laps last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Additionally, by leading 151 laps one week earlier at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Busch became the 30th driver to surpass 6,000 laps led in the Sprint Cup Series and sits at 6,002 laps led. Busch is closing in on three active drivers in career Sprint Cup laps led, including Jeff Burton (6,396), his brother Kurt Busch (6,428), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6,738).
* That’s a lot of laps: Last weekend at Martinsville, Busch became the ninth driver in Sprint Cup Series history to lead at least 150 laps in three consecutive races and the first since Jeff Gordon accomplished the feat in 1995. Additionally, Busch has led a total of 481 laps in the first six Sprint Cup races this season, which is more than all but eight drivers led during the entire 2010 season (including Busch, who led 1,271 laps, second to Jimmie Johnson’s 1,315). Busch has shown remarkable consistency over the last three races, winning at Bristol while leading 153 laps and finishing third and leading 151 laps at both Fontana and Martinsville.

- True Speed Communications Press Release

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