HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule reaches the halfway point, and with just nine races remaining before the 12-driver field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch is making a “charge.”
Coming off Sunday’s fifth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, his eighth top-five of the season, Busch now finds himself with two wins and is seventh in the standings.
The driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) looks to continue his “charge” as the first half of the season concludes and the run-up to the Chase commences with Saturday night’s traditional midsummer Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Busch & Company will roll into Daytona with a different look gracing the No. 18 Toyota this weekend – the metallic and reflective green-and-gold scheme for Interstate All Battery Center stores. The Interstate All Battery Center colors this weekend come as the company continues its franchise expansion throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Recognized as a top-50 franchisor by Franchise Business Review, All Battery Center stores provide “Every Battery for Every Need,” with more than 16,000 portal power solutions.
Interstate Batteries colors are already two-for-two this season with Busch’s wins at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Needless to say, Busch and the No. 18 team look to continue that streak Saturday night at Daytona.
Busch is certainly no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero 400, having won the July 2008 race behind the wheel of – yes –the Interstate Batteries Toyota. The Las Vegas native has fared much better in his summer races at Daytona during his career as the track is much more slick thanks to Florida’s July heat. He has recorded four top-five finishes in his eight July starts there.
With all of that in mind, Busch heads back to Daytona this weekend sporting different colors and hoping for some good fortune in a restrictor-plate style of racing where a driver not only has to be good, but have good fortune to go along with it. He would like nothing more than to start July in the best way possible – by bringing the Interstate All Battery Centers green-and-gold paint scheme to victory lane Saturday night as the No. 18 team continues its “charge” toward the Chase.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How would you assess your season and where your team is at with nine races before the Chase starts? “It seems like we’ve had really good finishes or not-so-good finishes. If we haven’t had something go wrong, like a wreck or a mechanical problem, I don’t think I’ve finished worse than sixth. So we just have to keep focusing on not making mistakes, and I know this team is capable of knocking off top-fives like we did at Kentucky last week. We’re a top-five team right now and we need to keep working hard with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys to keep bringing fast cars to the track and bring home solid finishes the next several weeks. Daytona is a different animal. We ran really well there in February but, obviously, had the engine trouble that knocked us out. I think we will have another strong car and you just hope you can stay out of a wreck and we can bring home a win, or at least another good finish with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry.”
Is Daytona still a special racetrack for you? “Daytona is cool – a lot more in February than in the summer just because it is the Daytona 500 versus the Coke Zero 400. For us, you still want to win everywhere you go, every single week. To win at Daytona is always cool. It’s definitely special. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR – the superspeedway aspect of it. I definitely love going there. It’s hot, it’s slick, and you can make the most out of yourself as a driver and what you’ve got in the car. We won there in 2008, and I’m hoping we can get a win with our Interstate All Battery Center Camry this weekend.”
As you head to the third restrictor-plate race of the year this weekend, how do you assess your performances on those tracks? “On the plus side, we’ve qualified better on the plate tracks this year, and that’s because of a lot of hard work by everyone at JGR and for TRD (Toyota Racing Development) on getting us the stuff we need to do better on single-car runs. Our plate stuff in the draft has always been good, and we’ve had good cars both races this year. I made a mistake at Talladega and it cost us, along with several other guys. These cars are so sensitive to contact on the straightaway, much different than our last car, so you try and not make those same mistakes again if you can.”
What are some of the things, handling-wise, you’ve seen with this new 2013 Toyota Camry Gen-6 car that is different than your previous racecars? “Handling is starting to come back more in play at Daytona because the pavement is wearing a bit. If you can get your car handling, driving, feeling good, you’ll be able to be one of the guys up front. I feel that’s where we were at in Daytona in February. Some guys were a little squirrelly, moving around a little bit more than I’d like to see, I’m sure more than they’d like to feel. Come race time, if we’re able to get more racing going on, more side by side action going on, two lane, three lane stuff going, you’ll see handling playing more of a role. And you might see more separation between some more cars which, if that’s the case, it’s a double edged sword. You’ll see it single-file out again because there’s not enough cars to make a pack. These teams have learned so much more about this car than when we first started out here in February. It was practically a blank sheet of paper. I think we’ll see these cars handling better as these teams have learned so much more and are a lot smarter than we were back then. It’s a continuous process and I’m sure there are some things that will be different this weekend because of that, not to mention the fact that it will be much warmer and slicker out there.”