HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – When Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries team look at the remaining eight races on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series calendar, there are several they have circled that take place on racetracks where they feel they have their best chances of bringing home victories.
One of those tracks happens to be Dover (Del.) International Speedway, site of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400. In addition to Dover’s concrete mile oval used two weekends a year for stock car racing, the venue is also a multi-use facility that also plays host to horsepower of a completely different kind from November through April – live harness racing on its .625-mile horse track that is situated inside the NASCAR high-banked oval.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), knows that a good run at a facility that is known as much for its four-legged competitors as it is for its competition of the four-wheel variety will be the order of the day come Sunday. His history of success on the concrete oval backs up that notion in every respect.
Dover has been as strong racetrack for Busch and the Interstate Batteries team as the Las Vegas native has posted two Sprint Cup wins, three NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins there.
Busch will not only try to keep that momentum going this weekend, when he’ll shoot for his fifth top-10 finish in his last six races at the racetrack known as the “Monster Mile,” he’ll also try to recreate the magic of his May 2010 race that saw him lead 131 laps en route to his second career Sprint Cup victory at the track.
Despite barely missing out on this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, Busch started off the final 10-race playoff stretch with a solid fourth-place run at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. Ill. He was well on his way toward following that up with another strong run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon this past weekend. But while running second after leading 48 of the opening 93 laps of the 300-lap race, Busch’s engine began to sour, which led to a disappointing 28th-place finish.
Busch and his Interstate Batteries team look to rebound from their weekend in New Hampshire, for certain, and they know they won’t have time to horse around in their effort to get the “white-hot” Interstate Batteries Camry back to victory lane on the Delmarva Peninsula.
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 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.”
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 Interstate Batteries Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Nationwide Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at this 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.”