Doggone Good at Richmond
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (April 19, 2016) – The life of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver can be hectic. With 38 weekends of racing in a 40-week span, the marathon-like schedule of NASCAR’s top series can be incredibly grueling as competitors crisscross the country from as far east as Loudon, New Hampshire to as far west as Sonoma, California.
While Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), and his wife Samantha live a lot of their lives in their motorhome at the track each weekend, a part of home they bring with them is their Pomeranian Yorkie named Lucy, who joined the family shortly after they were married in 2010, and a West Highland Terrier named Suzie, who Busch has owned since 2005.
Founded in 1955, Banfield Pet Hospital is the largest privately owned veterinary practice in the world. The practice has more than 850 hospitals in the United States and Puerto Rico, most of which are located inside PetSmart stores. And, good news for the Busch family in case there is a need for veterinary service while they’re on the road, chances are there is always a Banfield Pet Hospital nearby.
As Busch heads to Richmond (Va.) International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400, his record is doggone good at the .75-mile short track. His most recent win at Richmond in May 2012 was the fourth of his career there to go with four runner-up finishes and an amazing 14 top-fives in just 21 career Sprint Cup starts in Virginia’s capital city.
The Las Vegas native has an average finishing position of 7.1 at Richmond, tops among active drivers. Next best is Kevin Harvick, whose average finish there is 8.6. Busch has completed all but one of the 8,416 laps available to him at Richmond. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 7,332 laps, or 87.1 percent, which is second-most among active drivers.
This weekend at Richmond, Busch and the Banfield Pet Hospital team look to get back to the level of performance they exhibited there when they won four consecutive spring races from 2009 to 2012, which bested Richard Petty’s previous record of three Richmond spring-race wins in a row from 1971 to 1973. With those impressive statistics and records to back him up, it’s little wonder that a visit to the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia” gives Busch a doggone good chance at his third victory of the Sprint Cup season.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What does it take to get around Richmond?
“Richmond is getting a little trickier, it seems like, just with the asphalt kind of getting older and the way the cars are. The consensus at Richmond is, of course, just trying to get your car to turn, but also having really good forward bite. You have to be able to get off the corners at Richmond. You have to have good brakes, as well, and be able to turn the center. All of it correlates. Everything you want as a racecar driver, you’ve got to have most all of it and, if you don’t, then you better hope you have more forward bite than the rest of them. That’s sort of the equation of Richmond – it’s a fun place to race, it’s really cool. As a driver, you wish it could widen out and give you more options of being able to run around in different grooves, but it hasn’t shown us that the last couple years. We had a good run there last fall, but this is the first planned day race we’ve had since I started driving, so that will make it interesting. They ran during the day in the spring last year because of rain, but I was out of that race, so I’m sure Adam (Stevens, crew chief) will go back over his notes from that race to see what we can learn there. We’re hoping to get our Banfield Pet Hospital Camry back to form there from a couple of years ago.”
Why is Joe Gibbs Racing so strong at Richmond?
“I think a lot of it comes from Denny (Hamlin), being that it’s his home track. I’ve been good there in Hendrick and JGR cars. But Denny and I really feed off each other an awful lot at Richmond. We use each other a ton there, just to be sure we can beat the rest of the competition, of course. We do like similar setups there, unlike some other places we run. Richmond is one of those places where we both know what it takes to get around and we’re both similar to one another in that we both run well. Matt (Kenseth) has only added to our information there and now, with Carl (Edwards) on board last year, he’s a guy who’s been very good over the years there, as well.”
How excited are you to have the Banfield Pet Hospital scheme on board this weekend?
“We obviously travel most of the year doing what we do in NASCAR, so we know that if we have any of the dogs with us and they have health issues, there is likely a Banfield Pet Hospital not too far away from wherever we are. Banfield also is big into preventive care for our pets, which is important. I think everyone knows we’ve been dog lovers our whole lives – my mom, dad, grandparents. Everyone feels like our pets are our children. I know a lot of NASCAR fans feel the same way about their pets.”
What is it about Richmond that suits your driving style?
“I love Richmond. It’s one of my favorite racetracks and one of my best racetracks. I love being able to go there and, of course, we put on some pretty good races there. We won four spring races in a row and I would have loved to have made it five or more. It’s a neat racetrack and it’s certainly an excitement track and there is a lot of action that happens on Sunday afternoon there.”
Do you enjoy the atmosphere at Richmond?
“It’s been around for a long time, starting with the fairgrounds, so there’s a lot of history there. It’s a fast racetrack. It’s only a three-quarter-mile oval but it has really high speeds that makes it fun for us drivers and makes excitement that’s fun for a fan. Martinsville is a short track and it’s slow, but Richmond is pretty quick.”
- Charlie Brim
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