|Kyle Busch was runner-up last season at Watkins Glen.|
The driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has the SNICKERS® Crisper brand on his racecar for the first time this weekend but, with the historic road course undergoing a repaving project in the offseason, the new pavement will make it a new challenge at a place that has been very good to Busch over the years.
And if the Las Vegas native were to grab another checkered flag in Sunday’s 355k at the Glen on the newly repaved surface, he could join some elite company as a road-racing ace in NASCAR’s top series.
Currently, Busch is tied with David Pearson and Mark Martin with four Sprint Cup road-course wins apiece. That’s some pretty good company, already. But with a fifth road-course win, he could tie Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond and Dan Gurney on the road-course win list. More big names, to say the least. There is a bit of distance to the top two spots on the all-time road-course wins list, however, as second-place Jeff Gordon has seven wins and leader Tony Stewart has nine.
Busch scored his fourth career Sprint Cup road-course win in June 2015 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and he heads to Watkins Glen with an impressive nine top-10 finishes in his 11 career starts at The Glen, which includes two victories. Add an average finish of 10.5, along with his 191 laps led, and Busch’s record is quite dazzling at the site of Sunday’s 355-kilometer race.
Busch will also have the new SNICKERS® Crisper scheme along for the ride this weekend. The SNICKERS Crisper is “crispy satisfaction” in the form of crisped rice and peanuts, topped with a layer of caramel and coated in creamy SNICKERS® brand milk chocolate. A singles pack of SNICKERS® Crisper contains two squares that are less than 100 calories each. For more information on SNICKERS® or the Crisper variety, fans can visit SNICKERS® on Facebook or Twitter.
After Busch’s inaugural Sprint Cup victory at The Glen in 2008, he nearly won for the second time on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in his 2011 and 2012 visits there before breaking through again in 2013 with another victory in New York’s scenic Finger Lakes region. A third victory Sunday at The Glen would continue to solidify Busch and the SNICKERS Crisper team as the favorite each time the series comes to town.
So as Busch heads to Upstate New York for some road racing this weekend, he’ll hope to add his name to the record books as one of NASCAR’s best road-course racers with some new colors along for the ride.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS® Crisper Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You’ve had some success at Watkins Glen. What makes Watkins Glen challenging, and why is it so much different than racing at Sonoma, where you won last year?
“I like going to Watkins Glen. It’s a road course, but it’s kind of a high-speed road course. The difference in the two road courses, you think of Sonoma as like a Martinsville-type road course and you would think of Watkins Glen like a 2-mile oval, like a California- or Michigan-type road course. Watkins Glen has some speed and has some wide-open spaces a little bit, but there is still a lot great racing that happens there since you are able to out-brake people getting into the corners, or having a better run through the bus stop, or maybe getting by someone in the carousel. It’s a fun place to race. We tested there a few weeks ago and think we learned some things. It will be interesting to see what changes when we get a full field out there racing together. I really like Watkins Glen and I hope that we can have another solid run there with our SNICKERS Crisper Camry.”
Would you like to see more road-course races on the Sprint Cup Schedule?
“I wouldn’t mind more road-course races in the schedule. I think you have four restrictor-plate races, and you’ve got one speedway race in the Chase, so why not make it four road-course races in the season and perhaps one road course race in the Chase. That seems pretty even to me. At the same time, it’s easier said than done if you are NASCAR because you don’t know where you would be able to take away some races to add more road courses, but also add a track that has good enough weather later in the year to run there.”
What is the most fun part of a lap at Watkins Glen?
“To me, going through turn one and up through the esses is pretty cool and a lot of fun. It’s challenging, yet a lot of fun. As you come down the front straightaway, it’s a downhill braking zone, so you feel like you don’t have to brake as soon as you need to, but you need to in order to get slowed down for turn one. You try to stay out and get a good, hard cut to the right for turn one and accelerate out of there as quickly as you can to get set up for the esses. (You) stay wide on the left and then turn into the right-hander in (turn) two – smooth. You’re getting out of the gas but not using too much brake, just rolling off in there. As the car gets in there and loads, it actually takes a really big set because that’s when you start going back uphill. So the car will load up and that’s when you get back in the gas really wide open. And then you have to turn back to the left and be able to roll back out of it just enough to make the car bend. And then you’re back wide open again to the right-side guardrail and just keeping it tight through the right-hander that we call turn five.”
What is the most challenging part of a lap at Watkins Glen?
“I’d say the most challenging thing is the culmination of the inner loop and the carousel. All of that together is a lot harder to figure out how to make speed through there than just going through there traditionally. That’s an area of the racetrack a lot of guys really try to abuse. They’ll get off on the right side, get off on the left side and throw dirt up on the racetrack and then it just makes for a real mess.”
What does it take to be successful at Watkins Glen?
“At Watkins Glen, the biggest thing is pit strategy. Obviously, you’ve got to pick and choose when you’re going to pit and stick to your plan. Whether or not we can still do it on two stops I’m unsure of because Sonoma turned into a three-stop race for us all because the new fuel mileage is a little bit off from where we were last year. At Watkins Glen, though, you definitely have to be good at being able to carry speed, obviously, through the esses and down the long backstretch. That seems to be the key part of the racetrack.”
- True Speed Communication for M&M’s Racing/Joe Gibbs Racing