Model of Consistency
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (July 13, 2021) – There have been few things that have not changed dramatically in NASCAR’s top series over the past 30 years. However, one thing that has been a model of consistency since 1992 has been the partnership between Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and founding sponsor Interstate Batteries.
It’s that consistency that has helped propel JGR to five NASCAR Cup Series championships and 191 race wins – and counting – as one of NASCAR’s top teams celebrates its 30th anniversary throughout the 2021 season.
The longstanding Interstate Batteries partnership continues today with a driver and team who have been models of consistency on the racetrack during the late spring and summer each year. So, it’s only appropriate that Kyle Busch will strap back into his green lightning scheme this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon as he competes in the third of six races with JGR founding sponsor Interstate Batteries’ Toyota Camry.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for JGR, heads into Sunday’s Foxwoods Casino Resort 301 looking to continue his hot streak over the last 11 weeks with hopes adding yet another notch to the win column at a place he enjoys.
Busch has posted four consecutive top-three finishes, most recently a strong runner-up finish this past weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In fact, Busch has posted six top-five finishes in his last eight races, including his second win of the season in June at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Starting with his first win of the season on his birthday, May 2, at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Busch has only two finishes outside the top-10, and nine top-10 finishes during that time.
The New Hampshire track, affectionately dubbed the “Magic Mile,” has certainly lived up to its billing for Busch. In 2015, he and his team used hard work and a little bit of luck to bring home what would be his second of three Cup Series wins in a row during a summer hot streak that would ultimately springboard him to that year’s Cup Series championship.
The 2015 New Hampshire victory was Busch’s second Cup Series win on the flat, 1.058-mile oval, the first coming in just his third start there in July 2006, and in dominating fashion as he led 107 laps. After that 2006 win, the Las Vegas native left with plenty of confidence that he could get multiple New Hampshire wins as his career progressed. As it turned out, he was winless there over the next 17 races, which included a number of near-misses.
Still, the driver of the Interstate Batteries Toyota posted five top-five finishes in those 17 starts between New Hampshire wins, including three runner-up finishes in a row in 2013 and 2014 before breaking through for the aforementioned 2015 win. He added his first playoff victory at the track in September 2017 after leading 187 of the 300 laps in an impressive performance. In all, Busch has 11 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s in 29 starts at New Hampshire.
Now in the dog days of summer, this part of the season happens to be the hottest for Cup Series competitors with many race venues seeing higher July temperatures, which is also the case for race fans heading out on their vacation road trips. The summer months can be taxing on both man and machine, whether it’s on the highway or at the track. Caring for the latter is one of the ways JGR founding partner Interstate Batteries leverages its NASCAR program, reminding consumers to have their batteries checked during the hot summer months at a local dealer prior to their summer road trips. Typically, Busch and his team elevate their game even more during the grueling summer stretch thanks to Interstate Batteries.
So, as NASCAR’s top series heads to the Northeast for Sunday’s 301-mile race, Busch will bring back the familiar – and consistent – colors of Interstate Batteries, aiming for yet another victory together.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Going into New Hampshire, how do you feel about your program there?
“New Hampshire has been a pretty decent place for us over the years, so we are looking forward to taking our green lightning Interstate Batteries Camry back there and go for another win. The last few years, it’s been really hard to pass there. Last year, I think I ran three laps and, boom, went home. I had a tire failure. It’s been two years since I’ve run a full race there. Typically, we do run well there. We’ve got a strong package for there. It’s a 750-horsepower package race. It’s a mile race. It’s kind of what Phoenix is, so we need to kind of get a good baseline for what we need at the end of the year.”
In 2019, Joe Gibbs Racing was the dominant team, and now it seems this year so far Hendrick has been the best team. What does that say about the balance of the sport?
“It’s just a big cycle of who can take over the top. It’s more like a Ferris wheel. You are always wondering when you are going to get to the top and you want to stay at the top the longest. You are going to go down at some point, but how slowly can you get down and then how quickly can you make that climb back to the top. Two years ago, we were at the top of that, we were certainly hot. We fell really fast, and last year was just terrible at the bottom, but it feels like we are slowly creeping our way back toward the top. We are working on it. I feel like we are pretty good as an organization. We are definitely a little behind the Hendrick bunch, that’s pretty obvious because everyone is behind them. I feel like, us a team, that we are the closest to them. We would like to continue to run up front each week with those guys, but more importantly we want to beat those guys. Hopefully we can do that in the coming weeks and continue to build our way back up the points ladder to get more playoff points and set us up well for the final 10 races.”
What does it take to be successful at New Hampshire?
“Loudon is a Martinsville-like short track, but it’s just over a mile. It’s a little more spread out, but there’s some rooting and gouging going on because it’s a one-lane track and everybody fights for that particular groove. To be fast at Loudon, you have to have good brakes and you have to roll the center really well and get that good forward bite off the corners and make sure it sticks. The biggest thing about Loudon is, you keep losing front turn-in and that’s why the brakes go away, just because the corners are longer and more sweeping than you need to keep those front tires around you.”
The New Hampshire race is one of the shortest on the circuit. How do you approach that race knowing you might have a little less time to get to the front at the end?
“Essentially, at Loudon, you’re looking at how good your fuel mileage is and you have to look at when you have to make your last pit stop since that’s what everyone looks at. You end up running it almost like a road-course race because you do want to be the first guy on the last round of pit stops to pit. You want to get in there, get your tires and fuel, and then stay out the rest of the race and keep your track position since it’s so important there. It’s just a challenging race because it’s so hard to pass there. You can be two-tenths faster than a guy and not be able to pass him because everyone typically runs the same speed. You’ll have it where the leader might be a tenth better than the second-place guy, but everyone is separated by so little that it takes a mistake on someone’s part in order to pass them there.”
When you make a mistake at Loudon, does it cost you a little bit more because you have less time to recover?
“You don’t because you’re always on edge there. You’re trying to go as fast as you can into the corners, as deep as you can into the corners while rolling as much speed, or just a bit higher than everyone else so you are able to get back to the gas sooner. You’re going harder than everyone else in order to make the straightaway a little bit longer and get your momentum built back up. It’s definitely a challenging racetrack.”Event Overview:
● Event: Foxwoods Casino Resort 301 (Round 21 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 18
● Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon
● Layout: 1.058-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 301 laps/318.46 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 75 laps / Stage 2: 110 laps / Final Stage: 116 laps
● TV/Radio: NBCSN / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio