|Kyle Busch is 8/1 to win Pure Michigan 400.|
At the turn of the century, the Irish Hills turned into an enjoyable tourist destination with its plush, green landscape and more than 30 lakes for vacationers and residents to enjoy in peace and quiet.
For the last several decades, the Irish Hills come to life two weekends per year and become anything but peaceful and quiet when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn for some of the state’s biggest sporting events.
Kyle Busch, driver of the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), hopes his colorful green-and-white-striped paint scheme brings a little bit of good fortune his way during his stopover in the Irish Hills for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
Busch won the Pure Michigan 400 in August 2011 for his first Sprint Cup triumph at the 2-mile oval. However, the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season and, while he scored a solid fourth-place finish on the surface in June 2013, he has had six finishes of 30th or worse in the other eight races contested on the fresh pavement. This weekend, Busch looks to overcome that recent string of bad luck at Michigan and turn his fortunes around on the blazing fast oval.
This weekend’s race will also feature something familiar with the June race, as NASCAR will bring back the even lower downforce package that was run earlier this season at MIS. Busch was unable to run the full race to see how the revision of the low downforce package would do for him, as an engine issue in the race’s first half ended his race after having run just 52 laps.
So, as Busch and the Interstate Batteries team head to the Midwest this weekend, they’ll hope to luck of the Irish is on their side and that the green-and-white-striped Camry. They look to score a fifth Sprint Cup victory of the season Sunday afternoon in the Irish Hills of Michigan and perhaps the second win for the Interstate colors this season as the longtime sponsor continues to celebrate its 25th Anniversary season with JGR.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What are your thoughts heading to Michigan after plenty of bad luck there recently?
“It was a bit different with the low downforce package sand the additional downforce taken off, but still tough to totally get a handle of. What we learned last time at Michigan – I felt like we ran well. We were running fourth to sixth or so and having a decent day early, and then we had an engine issue and not able to show what we really had, so I essentially finished, I think last. Not such a good day for us but I felt like our car was fast enough to be capable of running in the top-10, and so I look forward to going back there and trying to see if we can’t do that again. It’s a place that you learn a little bit for Kansas because they’re both fresh repaves and I think you run on the same tire at both tracks – I can’t remember. But, it’s a place that you can learn some stuff for Kansas, so we like that and hoping we can finally get the monkey off our back there with our Interstate Batteries Camry this weekend.”
Most drivers really seem to enjoy racing at Michigan International Speedway. Why is that?
“Regardless of newer pavement or not, it’s wide-open racing, and I’m looking forward to it getting back to running from the bottom all the way to the top, it will eventually happen but the track needs some time to get wore out a bit. The biggest thing used to be to find grip there. But, with the new surface, there is a ton of grip now. Before, you had grip for maybe five laps and then you’d just be out to lunch. But now, the tire wear is all out the window and the racetrack is going to be very fast. And the wide racetrack is good. That’s what makes Michigan so exciting and so fun. That’s the biggest deal about it.”
How do you think the rules package from an aero standpoint is starting to shape up as you have run the low downforce package at Michigan and Kentucky, and again this weekend for a second time at Michigan?
“I guess the quote unquote 2017 package is what we’ve run at Michigan, Charlotte All-Star race, Kentucky so you know I’m for it. I think it’s a positive. I feel as though the last couple years we’ve moved in a direction where we were adding downforce to the cars and I would say that it wasn’t necessarily putting on a better show. The cars were for a lack of a better term call it too easy to drive and it was too hard to pass. So, now you’re taking downforce away and I feel like you’re giving more opportunity to the drivers – the good drivers – to showcase their talent and put themselves farther towards the front of the field and not get trapped in or stuck behind other cars or drivers that aren’t quite as good or capable of being able to run towards the front. It does create passing given the opportunities and does levy itself more towards what the drivers have been asking for. We didn’t get to run enough at Michigan in June to learn a bunch, but hopefully we do this time around and it’s a benefit to us and our Interstate Batteries team.”
You won the last race before the Michigan track was resurfaced. How much did the track change over the winters since the first race there on the new pavement?
“I think it has aged a bit and widened out a little bit more and we were better there in June. We just had some unfortunate luck with a engine issue. We struggled on the repaved tracks the last couple of years, but we were much improved at Kansas than we were there last year, so that gives me hope that we can do the same at Michigan this week. We just have to keep working hard and chip away at it like we approached the race at Kansas. I’m hoping we can learn enough in practice that we can have a good run there this weekend. One of the biggest things on repaved tracks is track position. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the Interstate Batteries guys have worked really hard on our setups there and we’ve been gaining on it, just feels like we haven’t had the luck that we are hoping to have. It will have to start with a good qualifying effort and seeing what we can learn in practice Saturday and have things go our way there a bit more.”
- True Speed Communication for Interstate Batteries Racing / Joe Gibbs Racing