HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 10, 2016) – As the one-year anniversary of Kyle Busch’s return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series approaches, it’s amazing to look back at the difference a year makes, and to see what he has accomplished in a relatively short time.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 PEDIGREE® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has been nothing short of impressive since his return from injuries sustained in February 2015 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
As the Sprint Cup Series looks ahead to Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Busch’s statistics since his comeback speak for itself. In the 36 Sprint Cup races Busch has started since returning from injury last May, he has won eight times and captured the 2015 Sprint Cup championship. Along with the eight wins, Busch has posted 21 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s and has led 1,414 laps. To go with his three wins thus far this season, Busch has posted top-fives in nine of the first 11 races. He finished the 2015 season on a streak of four consecutive top-fives, giving him a remarkable 13 top-fives in his last 15 races.
The Dover stats for Busch and his PEDIGREE® team are just as impressive – two Sprint Cup wins, five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins. Busch has led 1,018 laps in his previous 22 Sprint Cup starts at Dover, an average of almost 46.2 per race. He will look to improve on his runner-up finish at Dover last fall which is among his 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes at the concrete mile oval.
So, as Busch and his PEDIGREE® team head to Dover, Busch looks to continue the winning Pedigree he, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire No. 18 team have built during the year since his return as they look to notch yet another win Sunday afternoon on the Delmarva Peninsula.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 PEDIGREE Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What will be the team’s goals this weekend at Dover?
“We just need keep executing as a team like we’ve been doing pretty much every week. Dover has been a good place for me. We ran really well there last spring until we got in an accident late, but then had a strong second-place run there in the fall race. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and all the PEDIGREE guys are working hard to have a good car off the truck and get us off to a strong start this weekend and, hopefully, we can finish off a strong run there this time.”
You’ve come back from your injury stronger than ever, quicker than anybody imagined. Would you say the challenges you faced has changed your mindset as a driver?
“I wouldn’t give me all the credit. I’ve certainly had a lot of great people surround me. I had a lot of great help with my medical team and everybody who helped me get healthy – my wife, especially, all the care she took of me while she was seven months pregnant and everything that was going on at home. Just as important is Adam Stevens, the relationship he and I have, the time we spent with one another in the Xfinity Series, being able to get to know each other. I think, too, the time he had crew chiefing without me, with David Ragan, Erik Jones, Matt Crafton, those guys who drove my racecar, understanding and getting to know them, how to make the racecar better for when I returned, that it was just ready to change the name above the door, get back at it. I’d say I had a little bit different demeanor, a different way of going about these races. I didn’t think anything in the races was going to be as tough as going through the things I went through with physical therapy and being able to get back.”
What does it take to be successful at Dover?
“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging. They’re all a challenge, but Dover is especially so, just because of the way you have to run around that place. The way tires sometimes wear out. The way the rubber gets put down there. You’ve got to be fast through the corner. Two-thirds of your lap time is through the turns rather than down the straightaway, so you definitely have to make sure you have a good-handling racecar – one that’s good in the beginning of the run on low air pressures and one that’s good at the end of the run on high air pressures, and even through traffic, too. Some of the most challenging times are when you’re trying to get through traffic with guys.”
Do you enjoy racing at Dover?
“It’s definitely a fast racetrack. It’s a fun racetrack, too. It makes it interesting when you get to traffic, when you have to pass guys, when you’re kind of falling down into the hole and jumping back up out of the hole to the straightaways. It’s a good place to race. It’s a competitive racetrack and, when the rubber gets laid down, it definitely changes the whole atmosphere and the whole way you run around that place.”
Does going from concrete to asphalt change the way the car handles?
“We don’t run on an asphalt racetrack that’s banked like that or shaped like that. The mile tracks we go to that are asphalt are Phoenix and Loudon, and they are relatively flat. The concrete just changes the feel a little bit, of course, and changes the way you approach the racetrack, too.”
You have two Sprint Cup wins and a competitive history at Dover. What is your outlook with your history there?
“I love that place. It’s fun to race there and it’s a place I’m looking forward to going to with our PEDIGREE Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Xfinity Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at that racetrack and, for it to be a mile in length and for it to be concrete – concrete surfaces that we race on, anyway, are a little bit slick. It’s definitely a roller-coaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, I think, because you can get so much out of that place. There are two ways about it – you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days you’re going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”
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