HUNTERSVILLE, N.C.– As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, Kyle Busch is hoping to be doing the Texas Two-Step yet again in the Lone Star State.
After sweeping the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races there in April 2013, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), hopes he can at least equal his impressive weekend there in 2013, which saw him lead eight times for a race-high 171 laps and bring home his first Texas win in NASCAR’s top series.
This past April, while Busch didn’t visit victory lane at Texas, he brought home another solid top-five finish with a third-place run in the Duck Commander 500. The finish was his third top-five in his past five starts at Texas and seventh top-five in 18 starts at the 1.5-mile oval.
While the 2013 Sprint Cup win was his first there, Busch has been no stranger to victory lane at Texas. He reeled off an incredible string of five consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series wins there from April 2008 to April 2010. Add his two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins in November 2009 and 2010 and it’s no wonder Busch is eyeing three wins this weekend as he’s entered in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Truck Series races.
That could all begin for Busch with his second Texas win of the year Sunday, when he and his M&Ms team look to add yet another signature cowboy hat and six-shooters as race winner in the Lone Star State to Busch’s steadily growing trophy collection.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How special was it to get your first Texas win in April 2013, which also happened to be your 300th Sprint Cup start?
“It felt good to sit on the pole with a new track record and go to victory lane. Doesn’t get much better than that. It was a fast race and I expect more of that this weekend. Texas is fast. We’re able to carry a lot of speed throughout the turns and down the straightaways throughout the whole race. It was a tough day there for a bit, getting loose, trying to slide around, trying to find grip, being able to move to the middle or move to the top. As soon as that caution came at the end, my boys stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam and got us to victory lane. I was very proud of those guys and, hopefully, they can get us another good stop on Sunday and help get our M&M’s Camry to a win.”
Are you getting more comfortable at Texas each time you go back?
“It used to not be so much. I had some wild races there early on in my career and it wasn’t one of my favorite places, for whatever reason. Things have gone well, recently. The spring was a dream weekend for me there. Obviously, the Nationwide Series wins I had there all in a row and getting the win in the Truck Series the last couple of years have been real confidence-boosters. I’ve sort of learned how to drive it a little bit better and I know what I need in my racecar to make it easier. The cars JGR has given me since I joined the team have also been a confidence-booster there. Hopefully, we can get our M&M’s Camry back to victory lane there on Sunday.”
How fast of a racetrack is Texas Motor Speedway?
“It’s a fast racetrack. Texas was really hard for me at the beginning with the Cup cars, for some reason. I took to it right off the bat in the Nationwide stuff. We’ve kind of correlated some of that information back and forth and, having the cars from Jason Ratcliff (former Nationwide Series crew chief and current crew chief of the No. 20 Sprint Cup team for JGR) and from Dave Rogers (Busch’s Sprint Cup crew chief) being as good as they’ve been, we’ve been really fast there. And now that Jason is on the Cup side with Matt (Kenseth), I’m hoping they can bring back a little of that magic that helped us win five in a row there in the Nationwide car. It’s a fun place. It’s really challenging because of the flatness of the corners, getting into the corners, and then they’re so banked through the turns and then the exits of the corners, they kind of fall off really quickly. That was always really weird for me to try to figure out because the lateral grip seems to go away so fast on the exit of the turns. You kind of want to be straight by that point. It’s an interesting facility. Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta all might look exactly the same, but they drive nothing alike. It keeps you on your toes.”
Do you approach Texas differently than other mile-and-a-half racetracks?
“Texas is a really fast mile-and-a-half racetrack. Charlotte has been fast the last few years and Texas has always kind of been that way. The asphalt is getting a little bit older but, for as old as the asphalt is, it’s still really fast for a few laps and it’s still kind of a pain, sometimes, because it is so aero-dependent that, when you do run the bottom, it’s hard to pass. You’ve got to be able to move around a little bit and run the middle, run the top and show some ability to go all over the racetrack. We’re getting closer each and every time, it feels like. Sometimes not so much – you kind of go forward and then you go backward and then you kind of come back forward some. Hopefully, Texas will be good to us this time around, also, and we can get a win with our M&M’s Camry like we did at Fontana earlier this year.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine