MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Five months ago, the newly formed Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) team attempted the famous Tennessee short track for the first time with their owner-driver, Kyle Busch, who by all accounts is a master of the .533-mile short track. Their race together was a difficult one. It started with a top-10 qualifying run, followed quickly by a first-place position and the lead for 40 laps, until a pit stop miscue and then a late-race blown tire, forced the team to record a 17th-place finish. This week’s visit to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (BMS) marks the 22nd race for the first-year team, who travels to the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” once again, with high hopes of giving their boss his first taste of victory in the No. 54 Monster Energy machine.
Busch is no stranger to success on the high banks of Bristol. In 38 races across all three of NASCAR’s premier series, the 27-year old has amassed 12 wins, three poles, 20 top-five finishes, 27 top-10 finishes and 2,732 laps led. In the Nationwide Series specifically, over 16 starts, Busch has recorded four wins, two poles, nine top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes. He is the last driver to win from the pole position at BMS during a Nationwide Series event, done in August of 2011.
In 14 Bristol NNS starts, Busch ranks first among drivers in several statistical categories over the past seven years, including Driver Ranking (112.3), Most Green Passes (388), Most Quality Passes (296), Highest Number of Fastest Laps Run (488), Most Number of Laps Led (1014) and Highest Percentage of Laps Led (27.4%).
The KBM team travels to this weekend’s event at one of the fastest short tracks on the NASCAR circuit, where they know their leader is considered the ‘best’ at securing victory. The goal this week is to minimize errors, which will allow their company owner-driver to take the lead and maintain it, in order to cross the finish line and register that first win in his own car.
In five months since their last Bristol Motor Speedway effort, the No. 54 Monster Energy team has improved, and looks forward to showcasing their growth. Busch, as a driver, is recorded as the number one closer and fastest driver late in a run, at BMS. You can bet money, he will be charging hard.
Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
You didn’t have the chance to finish what you started earlier this year at Bristol, how do you feel going into the fall event there with your race team?
“Well, so much has happened in the months since our first Bristol attempt. That last time, we had a bad pit stop that put us back a ways and when we dug out of that, we had a blown tire. It was disappointing, and we’ve had several races since then where similar things have happened. This is going to take place in the first year as a new team….it’s frustrating, but we learn from each one.
I look forward to going back there with my team this week. Mike (Beam, crew chief) and Ren (Rick, General Manager) have put a lot of effort into making improvements with the equipment, with the crew and with our overall approach. Bristol is a track I enjoy driving very much and I know we’ll improve on the finish we had here last time.”
Mike Beam, Crew Chief of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
In the spring you talked about concern with being ready for Bristol, considering your team owner is one of the best on this race track. How do you feel now returning to BMS for a second time?
“Going back to Bristol with Kyle, who I believe is the best driver that has ever raced there, is exciting for this team. It has been five months since we raced there and as a team we have made some progress, but with that being said, we have a long way to go to be a great team.
For a new team, we have experienced so many things that have gone wrong and we have worked hard to correct them, but you just can’t help when you are experiencing bad racing luck, and I use that word very seldom because 75 % of things that have happened had nothing to do with racing luck, it was all preparation on my part and the team’s part .We have made mistakes on pit road, with chassis set ups and race calls, but we can turn it around at Bristol if we can hit the set up with the new track configuration and limit our mistakes. Hopefully, we can win the race because we know we have the man behind the wheel that can get it done there.”
Kyle Busch’s No. 54 Monster Energy Camry: Chassis KBM-003: KBM will unload car #003, first raced at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, where it was involved in an accident and finished 33rd. The car then visited Dover (Del.) International Speedway with Kurt Busch, who yielded the team a fourth-place finish. Most recently chassis #003 competed on New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where the team experienced fuel cell issues and suffered a 28th-place finish. The backup machine is Chassis KBM-007, regularly traveled as a second team car.
Notes of Interest: Kyle Busch is the youngest NNS winner at BMS on 3/25/2006 at the age of 20 yrs., 10 mos. and 23 days.
Kyle Busch is the last NNS driver to win from the pole position at BMS on 8/2/2011.
Kyle Busch has four wins in the Nationwide Series at BMS, one in 2006 and three consecutive across the fall 2010 event and both 2011 races.
Crew chief Mike Beam’s career statistics at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway include 43 races, one win (2006, NCWTS from the pole), four top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and 480 laps led.
Kyle Busch’s last NNS win came on 9/09/11 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Busch has competed in 14 series races since then, achieving a high-finishing position of second-place twice.
Kyle Busch’s best finish in the No. 54 this season, a second place, happened at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on May 5, 2012.
Kyle Busch holds an eight-year streak from 2004 to 2011 on consecutive wins and poles within the Nationwide Series.