MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Owner-driver Kyle Busch returns to the seat of the Dollar General Tundra Friday night for the Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The team comes into this weekend’s event riding the momentum of Brian Scott’s win last weekend at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, the first for the No. 18 team this season after leading the series in wins in each of its first two campaigns. Busch’s third-year Truck Series program, which finished first in the Owner’s points in its inaugural season and followed that with a runner-up finish last season, has recovered from a slow start to the 2012 season to put itself in a position to finish in the top-five in Owner’s points for the third straight year.
Misfortunes plagued the No. 18 Tundra in three of the first four races of the season – an early-race crash at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, engine failure on lap 19 at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway and then running out of fuel and losing two laps at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – and the team found itself ranked 24th in the Owner’s point standings heading into the fifth race of the season at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Since the Kansas race, the No. 18 Dollar General Racing team has scored 640 owner’s points, which ties it the with the No. 22 Richard Childress Racing team for the most during that 17-race period. Scott’s win at Phoenix marked the eighth straight top-10 finish for KBM’s flagship Tundra and the 14th over the last 15 races. Amazingly, crew chief Eric Phillips and his crew have orchestrated their resurgence with seven different drivers behind the wheel, each registering at least one top-10 finish.
With Scott’s win last weekend at Phoenix and Denny Hamlin’s win in the No. 51 Tundra two weeks ago at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, KBM enters this weekend’s Truck Series finale having collected victories in two of the last three races. The boss looks to get in on the act this weekend in the series finale and make it three out of four for his Truck Series program. Busch’s goal – as always – will be to sit on the pole, lead the most laps and end the night in victory lane. Then, with maximum points, hope his team has done enough to overcome a six point deficit it currently faces for the coveted fifth-spot in the Owner’s standings.
Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 18 NCWTS Dollar General Tundra:
How proud are you of the second half of the season that this No. 18 team has had? “I’m very proud of the second half of the season that all of the teams at KBM have had. As a company, I think we all expected to produce more wins out of our building this year — both in the Trucks and the Nationwide Series — but all of our teams have progressed in the second half of the season. It’s never easy for a team when you put seven different drivers behind the wheel over the course of a 22-race season and that’s not how we had it planned. Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and the guys have worked hard no matter who is in the truck and have had some really good runs. All seven guys that got behind the wheel this season had at least one top-10 finish. That shows just how strong this Truck Series program is and that will help us as we continue to try growing next year. Hopefully, we can end the season on a high note and get another win for Dollar General.”
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NCWTS Dollar General Tundra:
Despite misfortunes early in the season, your team has a chance to finish in the top five in the Owner’s point standings. What would that mean to this team? “I think it’s a big deal. We feel like that we’ve had top-five trucks all year long –no matter who was driving. It’s been tough at times with some of the circumstances that we’ve faced. I think it says a lot about the program and what all the guys do at KBM to have seven different guys get behind the wheel and some of the battles we have had this year. To be able to finish in the top five in points is definitely a big goal going into this weekend.”
Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Dollar General Tundra:
Chassis KBM-9: Friday’s WinStar World Casino will be the seventh time on the track this season and ninth career start for KBM-9. The last time the Tundra was in action, Kyle Busch started third and finished fourth in the WinStar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. KBM-9 is the same Toyota that Denny Hamlin drove to a second-place finish in last year’s Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The truck has qualified inside the top five in six of the seven qualifying sessions it has participated in.