Smooth Like Peanut Butter on the Concrete
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – The good news for Kyle Busch is that, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the mile concrete oval of Dover (Del.) International Speedway for Sunday’s FedEx 400 presented by Autism Speaks, the Las Vegas native has an impressive history on concrete tracks.
The bad news? Dover and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway are the only concrete tracks on the schedules for NASCAR’s top three series –Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck.
Busch, who will bring back the colorful M&M’s Peanut Butter scheme this weekend, has 23 wins at the two concrete-clad ovals during his 10-year career – a run that includes drives in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Truck Series.
At Dover, in particular, he has two Sprint Cup wins, three Nationwide Series wins and two Truck Series wins. As for Bristol, Busch has five Sprint Cup and seven Nationwide Series wins, along with four Truck Series wins.
While 23 is a lofty number of wins on just two racetracks, Busch, already a winner this season in the Sprint Cup Series and essentially locked into this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, is hungry for more.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is ready to feast again at Dover, where in the lead-up to Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, he’ll begin the weekend competing in Friday’s Truck Series race and Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. But the main focus is on the FedEx 400, where Busch will be looking to deliver his 30th career Sprint Cup victory.
He’s led 930 laps in his career at Dover, all of which bodes well for Busch’s chances at the Monster Mile this weekend. In fact, Busch has led 482 laps in his last four Sprint Cup starts in the Delmarva Peninsula. With 9,972 laps led in his Sprint Cup career, this could be the weekend where he eclipses the 10,000-laps-led mark for his career, which would make him the 15th driver to reach the milestone.
So, will Busch make another weekend on concrete look smooth as Peanut Butter yet again? If his record is any indication, he’ll be one to watch yet again Sunday afternoon.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What does it take to be successful at Dover?
“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging. They are 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 turn 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. We had good races there the last couple of years but haven’t been able to finish them off, so I hope we can keep the momentum going there again this weekend and get a win with our M&M’s Peanut Butter Camry.”
Do you approach some of these upcoming tracks differently because they’re Chase tracks?
“You don’t really approach them any differently. The biggest thing you do is just try to make really good notes. Write down everything that you’re doing, write down the changes you’re making – all of that kind of stuff – better than you typically would. With Chase tracks being run in the regular season, it sort of helps us be able to build a better notebook for when we go back and just having a better idea of understanding some things, but that’s about it.”
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.”
What does it mean to be close to reaching 10,000 laps led in the Sprint Cup Series?
“It’s pretty neat anytime we’re able to set records, break records – however you want to say it. It’s always fun. It just means you’re accomplishing things in the sport, various things in the sport. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish, still, that I haven’t. Whatever things come along that way, that we’re able to accomplish, is awesome, it’s fun, it’s great. It means you are a namesake in the sport and that hopefully things continue to go down that path. Whether it stops at 10,000 or not, I doubt it will, so hopefully we just keep going.”
Would you rather lead only the last lap than the most laps?
“If you lead 300 whatever laps and don’t win like we did at Dover in 2012, or at Darlington last year, it’s a lost race. It’s gone. It means nothing. It is what it is. You hate it and, on the flip side, if you can only lead one lap and lead the last one and win any race, I’d have that happen every single week. It’s all about taking home the trophy and the checkered flag, it’s not necessarily about how many laps you lead. When you lead all those laps, it shows that you’re good, your team’s good, your car is good, so the wins will come with it, eventually.”
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.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine