Focused on Six
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (April 17, 2017) – When it comes to winning races, Kyle Busch has always been about the numbers.
So as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series comes out of the Easter off weekend and heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500, the number of the week for Busch will be six.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has a stellar record at the .533-mile high-banked bullring with five Cup Series wins to his credit there. In fact, there will only be one other driver in the 40-car field Sunday afternoon who has the same number of Bristol wins – his brother Kurt Busch.
After coming so close to winning races earlier this year at Phoenix International Raceway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, not only would Busch like nothing more than to bring home his first Cup Series win of the season, he’d love to sit alone atop the list of active drivers with six career Bristol wins.
In addition to his five wins, Busch has notched eight top-fives and 13 top-10s in 23 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.” Amazingly enough, three of Busch’s wins there came over a four-race span at the .533-mile short track in 2009 and 2010.
While he is a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd, but his record since then has been impressive, to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Cup Series win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete short track than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch is looking to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there on the current surface.
As Busch chases his first win of the season, a quick look at the back-to-back short-track races at Bristol and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway the following weekend give the 2015 Cup Series champion plenty of optimism that wins are on the horizon. So as Busch and the M&M’S team head to Northeast Tennessee this weekend, they’ll be focused on the number six in hopes of taking yet another checkered flag at a Bristol track that has treated him quite well over the years.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How much do you look forward to Bristol each year?
“I certainly look forward to Bristol and I definitely have over the years, whether it was the old surface or when they repaved it. It’s been kind of frustrating a little bit for me on the Cup side since the (track surface) grind and I haven’t figured that out all the way, yet. We’ve had fast racecars the last several times there, but different things have happened that have kept us from being able to finish those races off and win another one. I definitely look forward to this weekend. We’re hoping things will fall in place this weekend with our M&M’S Camry and we get to victory lane there again. That’s always the goal each weekend.”
What is your most memorable experience at Bristol?
“The one that stands out the most for me is August 2010 – being able to do the sweep. We won the Truck race on Wednesday night, backed it up in the Xfinity Series race Friday and took home the trophy from the Cup race on Saturday night.”
What is the most challenging aspect of Bristol?
“I think the most challenging aspect of Bristol is just how difficult it is to transition through from the straightaways to the corners, back to the straightaways, and have your car set up in order to do all that. Sometimes you can be really loose getting in, or you can be really tight in the middle – you just seem to never be able to get a good-flowing car that works well there. Drivers have to do a lot of manipulation on the racetrack with their car in order to try to make the best of it.”
How have you figured out the best way to get around Bristol Motor Speedway?
“Things have just kind of really worked well together. It’s a fun place that you like going to. You enjoy the race around there. We grew up at the ‘Bullring’ (in Las Vegas) and stuff like that. They aren’t as banked as Bristol is, but I love going and racing at Winchester (Indiana) and at Slinger (Wisconsin), Salem (Indiana) – those are all really high-banked racetracks that are a half-mile in distance, or a quarter. They’re really fun to race around and you kind of get a great feel for racing in a bowl. You go down the straightaway and you slam it into the corners and you mash the gas and you kind of sling right back out of the corners. It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art. Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that makes them really good at it and makes it seem easy.”
What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique and a place that fans love?
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”
Race 8 of 36 – Food City 500 – Bristol
Car No.: 18 – M&M’S Toyota Camry
Teammates: Denny Hamlin – No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry; Daniel Suarez – No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry; Matt Kenseth – No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry.
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: Ben Beshore
Hometown: Hometown York, Pennsylvania
Engine Specialist: Mike Johnson
Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Spotter: Tony Hirschman
Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Tom Lampe
Hometown: Beatrice, Nebraska
Front Tire Changer: Josh Leslie
Hometown: Mount Clemens, Michigan
Jackman: TJ Ford
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Front Tire Carrier: Brad Donaghy
Hometown: Orange County, Virginia
Rear Tire Carrier: Kenny Barber
Hometown: Hoosick Falls, New York
Rear Tire Changer: Jake Seminara
Hometown: Steubenville, Ohio
Pit Support: Marcus Bonicelli
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pit Support: Jeff Koons
Hometown: Greenfield, Indiana
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
Interior Mechanic: Wesley Lape
Hometown: Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
Race Engineer: Tyler Allen
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Ride and Handling Engineer: Chris Chase
Hometown: Nichols, New York
Rear End Mechanic: Chris Jones
Hometown: Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Mechanic: Todd Foster
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Front End Mechanic: Brandon Griffeth
Hometown: Pittsfield, Illinois
Notes of Interest:
* The Food City 500 will mark Kyle Busch’s 434th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 24th NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
* Busch has career totals of 38 wins, 19 poles, 149 top-five finishes, 222 top-10s and 12,769 laps led in 433 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series win came in July 2016 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when he brought home his second consecutive win at the historic 2.5-mile oval. Busch’s win came from the pole position, his most recent pole and the 19th of his career.
* Busch has five wins, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s and has led a total of 1,960 laps in 23 career Cup Series starts at Bristol. Busch’s average Bristol finish is 14.3.
* 38 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Indianapolis last July, the 38th of his career, Busch is tied for 19th on the all-time Cup Series win list with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth.
* Trifecta: Busch capped an elusive hat trick at Bristol by winning the August 2010 Cup Series event. Then 25 years old, he swept the slate of NASCAR races at the .533-mile oval that weekend, winning the Truck Series race, along with the Xfinity Series race, before wheeling his No. 18 Toyota to victory and into the history books in the Cup Series race. Busch led four times for a race-high 282 laps in the Cup Series race. For the weekend, the Las Vegas native led 514 of a possible 956 circuits.
* Concrete Kyle: With five of his 38 career Cup Series victories at Bristol, in addition to sweeping both Cup Series events in 2009, and wins in August 2010 and March 2011, Busch captured his first Bristol win in March 2007.
* Trimming the List: With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, Busch has won Cup Series races at 21 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only two tracks he has yet to conquer in the Cup Series are Pocono (Pa) Raceway and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four of Busch’s last six Cup Series wins have been his first at each track in NASCAR’s top series (Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas). Of the 21 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
* All-Time JGR Wins Leader: With his Brickyard 400 last July, Busch passed three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart for most all-time Cup Series wins for JGR. Busch now has 34 wins for JGR to Stewart’s 33.
* 170 and Counting: Busch enters Bristol with 170 career wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions – Cup (38), Xfinity (87) and Truck (46) following his NASCAR Xfinity Series win earlier this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway.