All Charged up for the Round of 12
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Oct. 4, 2017) – Kyle Busch, coming off back-to-back Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff wins, will be heading to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway this weekend all charged up.
And who can blame him, as he won two of the three races in the Round of 16. Busch will look to add another playoff win, and his first career Cup Series points win at Charlotte, as the Interstate Batteries logos will be aboard his green-and-white-striped No. 18 Toyota for Sunday afternoon’s Bank of America 500.
With the Interstate Batteries team’s recent “charge” in NASCAR’s postseason, Busch looks to keep the momentum going as the Cup Series enters its fourth race of the 2017 playoffs in this exciting and sometimes unpredictable playoff format.
The driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has proven over the years that he can get the job done at just about every racetrack in NASCAR’s top series. In fact, Busch heads into this weekend chasing a long-awaited victory at Charlotte that would make him a winner at every track on the circuit, as well as a step closer to his immediate goal of bringing home a second Cup Series championship.
With wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Kansas Speedway in Kansas City added to the list last season, and crossing Pocono (Pa.) Raceway off the list this past July, Busch has won Cup Series points races at 22 of the 23 tracks at which the series competes. During his 2015 Cup Series championship season, Busch checked off Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of the 22 different tracks where Busch has won, he has multiple wins at 11 of them.
While he finally broke through and won the non-points All-Star Race at Charlotte in May, Busch continues to chase the ever-elusive points-paying Cup Series victory there.
Other drivers have come close to the feat Busch has in his sights – winning at every track on the circuit. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon retired after the 2015 season one short of the accomplishment as he was unable to secure a win at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta in five career starts there. Three-time-champion Tony Stewart, who retired at the end of last season, does not have Kentucky or Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on his career win list.
With Busch advancing to the Round of 12 of the playoffs after the New Hampshire and Dover wins, the focus Sunday will be on getting to victory lane and locking his Interstate Batteries team into the Round of 8 of this year’s playoffs.
The 2015 Cup Series champion has visited Charlotte’s victory lane a combined 15 times in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series, leaving no doubt Busch knows how to close out race wins in bunches at the 1.5-mile oval in the heart of NASCAR country.
So as Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries team head just down the road from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Huntersville, North Carolina headquarters, the hottest driver in NASCAR will be looking to add Charlotte to the win column, which could be critical in his “charge” toward another championship in November at the season finale at Homestead.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 1Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What does it mean to advance to the Round of 12, which starts this weekend?
“We had a really solid first round. I could not be more proud of the guys on this Interstate Batteries team. We added more bonus points in the first round, so hopefully we can have a good, solid next three races and keep advancing. Charlotte has always been a good place for me and, with the way we ran there in May, it should give us some confidence going into this weekend.”
You added some bonus points with wins the last two weeks. Do you think the bonus points are going to be a bigger help to you in the early rounds?
“I think the Talladega round obviously is going to be the biggest one, right? Right now, that’s where (Martin) Truex (Jr.) got knocked out last year. I think that’s kind of the biggest change from last year, that would have probably allowed him to go through where he’s at this year, and how well they ran last year, too. They would have accumulated the same if not maybe a tick fewer stage points. Got to race it out. It’s circumstantial. You’ve got to play it out, see what happens.”
How many championships do you hope to instill for your legacy in this sport?
“For me, I don’t care about my legacy. It’s more important than winning one, it’s more important than winning two, three or four. I’d feel happy if I were able to get five. I feel like that’s a challenging goal, yet one that probably is achievable. Why wouldn’t I say seven or eight? I feel like I’m too far along. If I was going to say I’d get to seven or eight, I should have had three by now. It’s just tough in this business. It’s hard in this sport. I mean, you could go rattle off five in a row – we’ve seen that done before. But, realistically, how easy is that? It’s not. I always try to look at the ‘realistic-ness’ of it and being able to see what’s truly achievable.”
You’ve always said that Charlotte is your favorite track. Is there any particular reason why?
“Charlotte is my favorite racetrack for a lot of reasons. Just growing up watching races on TV, I loved watching the All-Star Race under the lights and the 600 with all the sparks flying and all the guys going after hard-fought, hard-racing wins. The Xfinity Series has been good to me there. The Truck Series has been pretty good to me there, too. In Cup, I’ve had a lot of good finishes, but haven’t won one until the All-Star Race in May, but hoping that’s the beginning of good things for me there.”
You’ve won at every other Cup track, but you still haven’t won at Charlotte. Would you consider winning the October race at Charlotte to also be a huge feather in your cap?
“Winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since it’s one of my favorite tracks, would be really special since I’ve been able to win there in other series and have been close a lot in the Cup car. It seems like the month of May at Charlotte just hasn’t liked me too much. We got to win in the Truck Series there in the spring, so I’m hoping we can change that this weekend and get a fall Cup win. There are plenty of other tracks we need to win at, too, but there’s no doubt a Charlotte win would be big with our Interstate Batteries Toyota.”
Notes of Interest:
- The Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway will mark Kyle Busch’s 456th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 28th NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte.
- Busch has career totals of 42 wins, 27 poles, 159 top-five finishes, 237 top-10s and 14,009 laps led in 455 career Cup Series races. His most recent Cup Series wins came the last two weekends at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 27th of his career, came two weekends ago at New Hampshire. He has eight poles this season, a career high.
- Busch has one non-points win (2017 All-Star Race), 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s and has led a total of 971 laps in 27 career Cup Series starts at Charlotte. Busch’s average Charlotte finish is 15.0.
- All-Star Winner: While it wasn’t a points-paying race, Busch brought home a Cup Series victory in the All-Star Race at Charlotte in May. The win was Busch’s first victory in his 12th start in the All-Star Race, the largest number of starts before an All-Star Race win. The previous record was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
- Clean Sweep Times Two: For the second time in his career, Busch swept a weekend in all three of NASCAR’s National Series –Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck –in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The first time Busch completed the feat also happened to be at Bristol back in 2010, and the 2015 Cup Series champion is the only driver to do so –now twice – in NASCAR history.
- Starting Up Front: Busch captured another pole two weekends ago at New Hampshire, which was the eighth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Eight poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career with 29.6 percent of his career poles coming this season alone. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions –2013 and 2014.
- 42 Career Cup Series Wins: With his Cup Series win at Dover, the 42nd points-paying win of his career, Busch now sits alone in 17th on the all-time Cup Series win list. With his 40th Cup victory coming at Bristol in August, Busch became the fourth-youngest driver to reach 40 Cup wins at 32 years, 109 days, behind only Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, and Herb Thomas.