It’s hard to believe that with all the different tracks Kyle Busch has won at, the Pocono Raceway is not on that list. Site of Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400, Pocono has been a track Busch has either done well or terrible, with little in between.
Just take a look at his finishes going back to his first start in 2005: 4th, 39th, 22nd, 12th, 8th, 12th, 43rd, 36th, 22nd, 16th, 2nd, 23rd, 3rd, 2nd, 30th, 33rd, and 6th just a few months ago. Given his track record, Busch is excited to get back to the Tricky Triangle.
“Pocono used to be a place I didn’t look forward to going to but, lately, I’ve been looking forward to it because of Dave Rogers (crew chief). I struggled there and Dave does a really good job of working with our teammates. With Denny (Hamlin) being so good there, we used some of the baseline stuff from his 11 car and tweaked it more to my liking. Denny is still way better than I am there, but Dave, along with everyone on the M&M’s team and JGR, have done a good job of giving me solid racecars and it’s given me more confidence there. We really didn’t get to race the full distance either time there because of mechanical issues, so I’m hoping to get a full race in and see what we are capable of in the second year with this surface,” explained Busch.
Even with a repave on the raceway, according to Busch it’s the same old Pocono. It probably doesn’t help that his finishes last year was 30th and 33rd, with an engine failure and accident putting him out.
“I thought the racing there was kind of the same, not much different. It was a little bit harder to pass because it seems like, when you’re out front in clean air, you have so much more of an advantage than being back in traffic than what it used to be – slightly, not much. To me, it was always a hard, tricky place, but it’s actually finally started becoming a two-lane racetrack in turn three. You could run the bottom and you could run the top with what we call ‘the grip strip.’ Now, it’s all grip, so it’s all back to the bottom again and you can’t really make up much time on the outside, anymore,” commented Busch.
The most critical part for Busch will be mastering turn one, which has given him trouble throughout the years. It is where most of the passes happen and where fans will see drivers fan out three and sometimes four wide to gain ground.
“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8- to 10-mph slower than the guy on your outside, and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway,” said Busch.
Busch and his team will look to get his first win at 1 PM EST on Sunday. The GoBowling.com 400 can be seen on ESPN.