HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Despite the fact Kyle Busch is a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series winner at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, he still feels like he has some unfinished business at the aptly named “Monster Mile”.
Last September, Busch led an astounding 302 of the 400-lap race at Dover. But, a long, green-flag run at the end changed the race into one of fuel strategy, and he found himself having to come to pit road for a splash of fuel with less than 10 laps to go, foiling a truly dominant performance.
Looking for a little more luck this time around, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s 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 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. But the main focus is on the FedEx 400, where Busch will be looking to deliver his 27th career Sprint Cup victory.
Dover, the site of Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks, is one of a pair of concrete tracks that hosts NASCAR’s top three divisions – Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway being the other.
Busch has 20 wins at the two concrete-clad ovals during his nine-year career – a run that includes drives in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Truck Series.
At Dover, he has two Sprint Cup wins, three Nationwide Series wins and two Truck Series wins. As for Bristol, Busch has five Sprint Cup and five Nationwide Series wins, along with three Truck Series wins.
While 20 is a lofty number of wins on just two racetracks, Busch, the winner of two Sprint Cup races already this season is hungry for more.
He’s led 827 laps in the12 Sprint Cup races contested thus far this season, and 750 laps in his career at Dover, all of which bodes well for Busch’s chances at the Monster Mile this weekend. Still, he can’t help but look back on the 302 laps led at Dover that went all for naught. Yes, there is unfinished business to take care of.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s 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 such a good race there last fall but came up short on mileage, so I hope we can keep the momentum going there again this weekend and get a win with our M&M’s Camry.”
Do you approach 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.”
Would you rather lead only the last lap than the most laps? “If you lead 300 whatever laps and don’t win like at Dover last fall, or at Darlington a few weeks back, it’s a lost race, it’s gone, it means nothing. It is what it is. It sucks and 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’s good and everything else, but it just goes to show you how much bad luck we’ve had and we’re hoping we can shake some of that this weekend in Dover with our M&M’s Camry.”
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.”