HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina – Kyle Busch heads to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway with the Interstate All Battery Center logos aboard his green-and-white-striped No. 18 Toyota for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500.
The car’s scheme represents the Interstate All Battery Center slogan “Ready for Anything,” could be a perfect mantra as the Sprint Cup Series enters its fourth race of the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in this exciting and sometimes unpredictable playoff format.
The driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has proven over the years that he can get the job done at just about every racetrack in NASCAR’s top series. In fact, Busch heads into this weekend chasing a long-awaited victory at Charlotte, which would get him one win closer to winning at every track on the circuit and a step closer to successfully defending his Sprint Cup championship.
With victories at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to Busch’s career win list this season, he has now won Sprint Cup races at 21 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. The only two tracks he has yet to conquer in the Sprint Cup series are Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Charlotte, the 1.5-mile oval to which he now turns his attention. During his 2015 Sprint Cup championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 21 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 12 of them.
Other drivers have come close to accomplishing the feat Busch has in his sights. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season one short of the accomplishment as he was unable to secure a win at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time-champion Tony Stewart, who will retire at the end of this season, does not have Kentucky or Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on his career win list.
With Busch advancing to the Round of 12 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs after Sunday’s runner-up finish at the first-round cutoff race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, the focus Saturday night will be on getting to victory lane at a place where a win has eluded him over the years while also looking to lock his Interstate All Battery Center team into the Chase’s Round of 8. He has visited Charlotte’s victory lane a combined 14 times in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series, so the Las Vegas native certainly knows how to close out race wins in bunches at the 1.5-mile oval in the heart of NASCAR country.
Busch & Company roll into Charlotte with support from Interstate All Battery Center retail stores as the sponsor continues its franchise expansion throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America. Interstate All Battery Center stores provide consumers with just about any type of battery, with more than 16,000 portal power solutions for all household needs. From batteries for power tools around the house, to flashlight batteries in anticipation of incoming weather, Interstate All Battery Center will have consumers ready for anything.
Interstate Batteries’ colors are already in the win column in 2016 via Busch’s victory in April at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, right smack in the backyard of Interstate’s Dallas headquarters.
So as Busch and his No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center team head just down the road from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Huntersville headquarters, the defending Sprint Cup champion will be looking to add Charlotte to the win column, which could be critical in his quest for back-to-back championships.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What does it mean to advance to the Round of 12, which starts this weekend?
“We had a really solid first round – nothing spectacular but also no big mistakes, either. The points reset, now, so we’re back even with those guys and hopefully we can have a good, solid next three races. Charlotte has always been a good place for me and, with the way we ran at Chicagoland, it should give us some confidence going into this weekend. We would love to get a win, though, and get locked into the next round, that’s for sure. This is the most challenging round for our race team, but we won at Kansas in the spring and we have run very well at Charlotte in the past, even though I still haven’t been able to win there yet in the Cup Series. We’ve been close at Charlotte several times before. We didn’t have the best two races at Charlotte in the spring, but we’ve been working on it and hopefully this time around we have a shot to win with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry.”
How do you see how your Chase is going compared to last year’s, when you eventually won the championship?
“Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and the guys have done an awesome job. We’ve got really fast cars, just missing the boat a little bit on something the 78 team has figured out, and we have to keep working. I’ve just got to say thanks to Adam Stevens (crew chief) and all these guys. They did a great job. We finished second at Dover just like we did there last year. It was a good points day for us, we were able to move on to the next round and we need to keep being able to do that and just get ourselves to Homestead. That’s where it matters the most.”
You’ve won at 17 different racetracks but you still haven’t won at Charlotte. Would you consider winning the October race at Charlotte to also be a huge feather in your cap?
“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it’s one of my favorite tracks, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Sprint Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win in the Truck Series there in the spring, so I’m hoping we can change that this weekend and get a fall Sprint Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt a Charlotte win would be big.”
What are the challenges of racing at Charlotte?
“I think the biggest challenge about Charlotte is how much the track changes from practice. You practice all during the day and then you go into night racing. You’ve got to know what kind of adjustments to make to your car and how well you can race at night. Typically, you go back to your night notes. For us, we’ve run well there in the past and like going there. It’s a fun place to race and adds to the excitement of spending some time at home.”
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.