HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – With 14 combined wins between the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch has spent plenty of time in victory lane at the 1.5-mile oval in the heart of NASCAR country.
But the driver of the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) would love to highlight his resume with his first Charlotte Sprint Cup win in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at the racetrack Busch calls his favorite on the circuit.
As primary sponsor of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota this weekend, iconic chewing gum brand Doublemint would like nothing more than to have a celebration of their 100th anniversary after Saturday night’s 500-miler in victory lane at Charlotte.
Despite falling just short of earning his first Charlotte Sprint Cup victory twice in the last three seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the 1.5-mile oval known as the “Beast of the Southeast” during his 21 previous Sprint Cup starts there.
He’s riding a streak of 12 top-10 finishes in the last 14 points-paying races there dating back to October 2006. In addition to solid Sprint Cup finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Nationwide Series wins (May 2004, 2005 and 2008, 2010 and 2013, and October 2008 and 2013) and six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins (2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014).
Coming off an impressive third-place showing Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – statistically one of Busch’s worst racetracks – the Las Vegas native heads to one of his strongest tracks Saturday night shooting for a win with his Doublemint Camry. Busch is looking to extend his strong start to this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. He sits second in the standings, just six points behind leader Joey Logano, and has recorded four straight top-10 finishes to start this year’s playoffs.
So, with a strong record at Charlotte over his 10-plus seasons on the Sprint Cup circuit, Busch and his team are looking to add a long-awaited win in the NASCAR mecca of Charlotte to his growing resume during Doublemint’s 100th anniversary year, while also keeping the fight going in a 2014 championship battle that still has a long way to go.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What does it mean to have earned a top-five at Kansas heading into the second race of the Contender round this weekend?
“It’s good and it means a lot to come out of there with a finish like that. I set my mind to it, that there was no reason why we couldn’t run well there. There is absolutely no reason, and other guys can do it, so I can do it and my teammates can do it – there is no reason. We just need to carry on and continue to run strong in these remaining races and have another good, solid run this week with our Doublemint Camry at Charlotte and then we can go into Talladega with a little bit of a cushion. We tested there a few weeks back and had a good test. Hoping that pays off for us with a good run this weekend.”
You’ve said in the past that Charlotte is your favorite track. Is there any particular reason why?
“Charlotte is my favorite racetrack for a lot of reasons. Just growing up watching races on TV, I loved watching the All-Star Race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Nationwide Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. But a Cup Series win has eluded me there. We’re definitely getting closer than I was back when I first started racing at Charlotte. I think I have something like 12 top-10 finishes in my last 14 races going into this weekend, so I hope my luck is turning around a bit and I can finally get that Sprint Cup win there with our Doublemint Camry.”
You’ve won at 17 different racetracks but you badly want to win at Charlotte, someday. Would you consider winning the October race at Charlotte to also be a feather in your cap?
“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it is my favorite track, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the 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 it 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.”
Do you enjoy the night race at Charlotte?
“Charlotte is always fun because it’s cool for us. It’s my favorite track, but it’s cool for a lot of teams because it’s kind of – quote-unquote – close to home. I like going there. It makes things interesting with the night race, practicing during the day and racing at night and the cooler temperatures and everything. You’ve got to put your best foot forward and work as hard as you can.”
What’s the biggest difference from the spring race to the fall race at Charlotte?
“It’s a little bit warmer in the spring and summer months – in May versus where we are now in October. It’s still one of those neat facilities we get to go to two or three times in the year, if you count the All-Star race. I like going there. It’s close to home for everybody, so it’s not too far out of bed.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine