Bristol

Triple Play

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Aug. 15, 2017) – In baseball, triple plays are rare. In fact, there have been 713 triple plays in the history of Major League Baseball, dating back to the first triple play in 1876. On average, there are 3.5 triple plays turned during the more than 2,400 games played each year, with the most recent coming this past Aug. 3, when the Baltimore Orioles turned one against the Detroit Tigers.

With that in mind, NASCAR’s version of a triple play is much more rare than baseball’s version. Of course, NASCAR’s version of the “Triple” is a driver winning all three races of NASCAR’s top national series – Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck – at the same track on the same weekend.

Only one driver has been able to pull off that feat – Kyle Busch. Back in 2010, Busch brought home all three trophies during a magical August weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Before and since then, the Las Vegas native had come close by winning two of the three races several times. But he only accomplished the coveted triple that one week in August 2010.  

So as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shop Night Race, the 2015 Cup Series champion will again attempt to pull off something only he has ever accomplished – a weekend triple. Busch is entered in Wednesday night’s Camping World Truck Series race in the No. 46 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). He’ll continue Friday night in the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and then finish off the weekend in NASCAR’s top series Saturday night.

The driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Caramel Toyota Camry for JGR in the Cup Series has a stellar record at the .533-mile high-banked bullring with five Cup Series wins. In fact, there will only be one other driver in the field Saturday night who has the same number of Bristol wins – his brother Kurt Busch. He would like nothing more than to sit alone atop the list of active drivers with six career Bristol wins.

In addition to his five wins, Busch has notched eight top-fives and 13 top-10s in 24 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.” Amazingly enough, three of Busch’s wins there came over a four-race span at the .533-mile short track in 2009 and 2010.

While he is a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd, but his record since then has been impressive, to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Cup Series win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the concrete oval than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch is looking to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there on the current surface. 

So as Busch and the M&M’S Caramel team head to Northeast Tennessee this weekend, they’ll be focused yet again on another possible “Triple Play” in hopes of taking yet another checkered flag at a Bristol track that has treated him quite well over the years.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Caramel Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

Would you like to break the tie between yourself and your brother for most wins here at Bristol among active drivers?

“I remember watching when I was a kid – I wasn’t here yet – watching Kurt win his first race here at Bristol and then having the epic battle with Jimmy Spencer there. That was a lot of fun to watch and see how Kurt was able to get his first win here and of course the years that I’ve been able to put cars in victory lane or wishing I could go back and get a few more of those wins that I missed out on – I’d have a heck of a lot more than just five. I think nothing comes close to the race that we had here in 2010 in the fall when I won the Truck race, the XFINITY race and the Cup race all in the same weekend. That was awfully special to pull off and with as much things as can happen here and as much carnage that can happen here, it certainly made for an awesome weekend and one for the record books.” 

What is your most memorable experience at Bristol?

“The one that stands out the most for me is August 2010 – being able to do the sweep. We won the Truck race on Wednesday night, backed it up in the Xfinity Series race Friday and took home the trophy from the Cup race on Saturday night. We would certainly like to give it a shot again this weekend and get our M&M’S Caramel Camry to victory lane on Saturday to finish it off.”

Do you think anyone will ever win another seven races in a row at Bristol, like Darrell Waltrip did from 1981 to 1984?

“No, I don’t think so. I think the way the sport was then is certainly different than the way the sport is now. When you hit on something back in that day, you might have been able to keep it at that particular racetrack for a lot longer than you can now. The way that tech goes and the way you have to tear down your car here at the racetrack and having people looking at it from not very far away, they can see what you’re doing and, then again, they go to the tech center and they pull apart the shocks and they pull apart the bump stops and they basically give away to everybody else what you’re doing. I don’t think you’ll ever see seven in a row at a particular racetrack again, but I could be wrong. Deep down, I would like to say that I could do it, but I know that, even with the team I have and the crew and the talent and everything we’ve got going on with the M&M’S Caramel car, that’s going to be hard to do. It’s fun to reminisce about those days and about what it’s all about but, sometimes you hear these comments about our sport. And they talk about how great it was in the ’70s or the ’80s, and you look at some of the results and there’s eight cars that finish and the second-place car is three laps down and this guy has now won five in a row at a particular racetrack and it’s, like, ‘How is that the good old days?’ Is that really what would be exciting these days? I don’t think so. Not unless it’s your favorite driver, and there are a lot of fans out there who pull for different drivers.”

 How much do the changes to the track impact your capabilities at this track? 

“Every time we come here it seems like there’s something changing. With the bottom grip strip let’s call it, it certainly makes for a unique race track – more unique than it was already and when they first re-concreted this race track and did a new layout to it, more of a bowl-type to where you can run all over the race track, I was a huge fan of that – that you could race and race cleanly and not have to knock people out of the way and you could run three wide through the corners or two wide most all the way around the race track. That’s boring apparently so they changed it again and ground the outside groove and that really through me and my team for a loop and we were never really able to find something that we could work with up there and get it to work the way that we needed it to win races here. Now that they have the bottom groove going back again, that seems to open it again for the bottom and the top and you can run two lanes and you can have the lanes be more equal to one another rather than the top just being so much faster and having to run up there.”

What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique and a place that fans love?

“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”

Notes of Interest 

  • The Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway will mark Kyle Busch’s 450th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start and his 25th NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol.
  • Busch has career totals of 39 wins, 24 poles, 155 top-five finishes, 232 top-10s and 13,505 laps led in 449 career Cup Series racesHis most recent Cup Series win came three races ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Busch’s most recent pole, the 25th of his career, came two races ago at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He now has six poles this season, a career high.
  • Busch has five wins, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s and has led a total of 1,960 laps in 24 career Cup Series starts at Bristol. Busch’s average Bristol finish is15.1.  
  • 13,000: After leading 100 laps at Pocono in June, Busch bested the 13,000 mark in laps led in NASCAR’s top series. With his current 13,505 Cup Series laps led, Busch is just the 11th driver to best the 13,000 mark.
  • 100th: Busch brought home Toyota’s maiden Cup series victory in March of 2008. Fast forward nine years later and Busch’s recent Pocono win was the 100th for the Toyota Camry brand in NASCAR’s top series. Busch has brought home 35 of those 100 victories for the manufacturer. The win was also Toyota’s 400th victory among NASCAR’s top three series. Among those 400 wins, Busch has 155.
  • Starting Up Front: Busch captured his third consecutive pole two races ago at Watkins Glen, which was the sixth of 2017 for the Las Vegas native. Six poles is the most Busch has captured during any season of his career. In fact, prior to 2017, the most poles Busch had captured in a season was three, which he did on two different occasions during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

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