Kyle Busch Will Clinch Chase Berth At The Glen

JD Gibbs of JGR

JD Gibbs of JGR

Barring any crashes, or mechanical failures, Kyle Busch will earn a chase berth this weekend at the Watkins Glen Cheez-It 355.

Yes it’s a road race, which have become tantamount to a short track Saturday night brawl. Anything could happen, but Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing are ready to clinch their spot with the Toyota M&M’s team.

What that means is staying as far out of trouble as possible, running as clean a race as possible and delivering a car that Kyle Busch can feel comfortable in driving. That, in and of itself is no stretch, this isn’t their first road racing rodeo.

Kyle Busch is a no-nonsense hard charging wheelman that is no stranger to victory lane in road races having won at Sonoma and repeatedly challenging at Watkins Glen.

He’s being referred to as a ‘Wild Card’ by mainstream media sports writers to whom NASCAR is usually an afterthought. This just isn’t the case.

Technically, a wildcard is defined by the Urban Dictionary as: “A person who is generally unpredictable and has no defined role in a group of friends, and their often reckless and wacky behavior can either benefit or hurt the group depending on the situation.”

What has Toyota found in their engines giving them an advantage?

What has Toyota found in their engines giving them an advantage?

Kyle Busch, unpredictable? He has been at times. Whacky, at times and it can’t defended. But reckless, not really, he’s fast he has unmatched car control and he can road race. Hence the definition of ‘WildCard’ may fit to those who don’t like him, but the term doesn’t fit Busch’s determination or skill level. Kyle Busch will lock himself into the Chase this weekend.

The biggest caveat is he gets taken out early by someone else or somehow loses sight of the fact that he needs to lock in this weekend, not win the race.

It can be argued, and should be, that driving to win is the surest way to make the playoff, however the unpredictability of a road race, not Busch, is the real ‘Wildcard’ is it’s a road race.

Now comes the subject of Toyota’s new found engine energy. I say energy as it seems that since Indianapolis and Kentucky the Toyota’s have found more than just horsepower. They have found power in the entire power-band, not just top speed.

That alone is an advantage at any road race. Having torque upon corner exit is a beautiful thing for a road racing driver. Being able to utilize the power of an engine throughout it’s power range is what is necessary to go from high speed down to slow corners and then utilizing that horsepower coming out onto a straight.

sThis is where passes are made and smoothness counts.

The Toyota’s have found something and it’s working. This plays to Kyle Busch’s strengths. He’s now able to utilize everything the Toyota has to offer and Watkins Glen is exactly one of those tracks where this should be a winning combination.

A ridiculously fast driver, a well grounded and strategic team and useable horsepower throughout the power-band.

What could possibly go wrong, it’s only a road race.

 

 

Kyle Busch: More Than Mature Enough to be Champion

With five races to go, Busch will crack the top 30 and then some.

With five races to go, Busch will crack the top 30 and then some.

It never ceases to amaze me that NASCAR racing fans want more action, more risk takers and more competition but scream to high heaven when someone like Kyle Busch actually lives by those tenets.

The Pocono race was, at it’s finish, dramatic to be sure. Crew chiefs were tapping wildly on their computers to measure just how much room they had in fuel mileage to make the end of the race, everyone was on the edge of their seats as Logano ran out of fuel. Busch swung for the fences and came up short of a win, but not without gaining points.

Kyle Busch fans watched in horror as one half a lap before the checkered flag, while leading, he ran out of gas. Why? I say why not?

Busch might have backed down and finished 13th or above and locked into the Chase, but he didn’t. Were his crew chief and spotters not hard enough on him to save fuel? Perhaps not, but the sky is not falling for Kyle Busch to grab a berth in the playoffs.

Some writers believe he’s not mature enough to take a Championship. That’s nonsense. He’s 13 points from the Chase berth with five races to go and the only driver ahead of him for that coveted 30th place are Cole Whitt, David Gilliland and Justin Allgaier.

New wife, new baby, new attitude. Kyle Busch will be a contender for the title.

New wife, new baby, new attitude. Kyle Busch will be a contender for the title.

The 18 team wont repeat that mistake and that’s bad news for everyone else in the field.

Is their anyone out there that thinks Kyle Busch can’t overcome these drivers in points, a miniscule 13 points, before Richmond? If so, you need to put the crack pipe down and slowly step away.

When asked if he was disappointed, he calmly stated: : “Yeah, that was it. I didn’t know we were that close. Normally when we’re close or that close I get harped on pretty hard to save fuel. They were just telling me to save just to not put too much pressure on the car and everything else. Man, that’s a bummer. I wish I would’ve saved a little more there that last run. I wish I would’ve known that the 22 (Joey Logano) was that far away from making it. He was way far away from making it. Man, that was just a shame that we weren’t able to get it done there.”

Doesn’t sound like a rookie or desperate man to me, he sounds like a confident driver who takes chances. Isn’t that what all of you have been screaming to see? Imagine that, a professional racing driver taking chances.

He added: “We got greedy, I don’t know how greedy but that’s the position we’re in. If it came down to other things that we haven’t had the success that we’ve had here lately we would’ve had to have pitted and just made the opportunity of it and made the best finish that we could. But, we went for broke today and come up a little bit short so can’t fault the team.”

Is Kyle Busch worried? Hell no. He knows what he’s capable of achieving. A close friend, Bill Marlowe, NASCAR expert and former engineer for some of NASCAR’s greats put it bluntly: “ There are only a few “A” rated drivers out there, but to me, only three real wheelman. They’re Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.”

You fans ask for excitement, tough drivers and hard racing.

You have it in Kyle Busch, who may very well be the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.

 

 

 

 

Kyle Busch Should Not Race Yet

Busch should wait until his injuries and mindset are at full throttle.

Busch should wait until his injuries and mindset are at full throttle.

Kyle Busch is rushing his return to the #18 Joe Gibbs Toyota. Maybe that’s a strong opinion since the accident didn’t happen to me, but actually his injuries are very close to those I sustained in 1998.

Mine wasn’t quite as glamorous as a racing accident, but just as traumatic. Being hit by a car and thrown 50 feet didn’t do my bones any favors. Busch suffered a compound break of his right leg and a fracture of his left foot in in a wreck in the closing laps of the Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Mine was a broken left leg, slight fracture of the right forearm and a very rare type of broken ankle. I know exactly what Kyle Busch has gone through. It took two years before I could walk without a cane.

Busch is beyond the shadow of a doubt one of the very best drivers in modern Sprint Cup. No one can deny that. But is he the smartest? One good hit in any of these next few races could undo all of the healing his bones have gone through.

Perhaps Stewart returned too quickly.

Perhaps Stewart returned too quickly.

Rushing back into one of these cars at an ultra competitive event such as the Sprint All-Star is courting disaster.

Busch is still young, JGR is not going to toss him aside for Erik Jones, talented though he may be. Jones is a super future talent, but Busch is a proven entity that should be secure enough in his abilities to not jeopardize his future.

It’s obvious to anyone who has some knowledge of these types of injuries that it’s a hard climb back to the front of a Cup race. Just ask Tony Stewart who hasn’t performed the way we’re all used to seeing. Is it trepidation on Stewart’s part or is it just a new type of car? My bet is that he has to overcome what all drivers do when they have catastrophic injuries.

Just ask Niki Lauda after his horrific crash at the Nurburgring in 1976. Lauda suffered extensive scarring from the burns to his head, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and his eyelids. He chose to limit reconstructive surgery to replacing the eyelids and getting them to work properly.

It took everything Lauda had to mentally return to Formula One after this horrific accident. Lauda is buried in the flames.

It took everything Lauda had to mentally return to Formula One after this horrific accident. Lauda is buried in the flames.

Lauda returned 6 weeks later only to find he was terrified. He discovered that even though he couldn’t remember all that happened to him in the crash, he couldn’t navigate certain corners at full throttle, his mind wouldn’t allow it. He finally was able to mentally overcome it, but not without great difficulty.

I would have to say, from experience, that Busch, Stewart and Lauda both suffer what we now call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes it applies to racing drivers, not just victims of horrible crimes or returning military personnel. It affects racing drivers who have had a catastrophic accident.

Racing drivers are a unique breed of cat. The first thing you want to do is get back in the car right away, get back on the horse, but it’s often rushed and can be a life-altering mistake.

Busch would lose nothing by more slowly working himself back into top shape. He’s that good.

I can attest that there is nothing more ever-present, more throbbing and more painful than broken bones, especially legs and feet. That pain isn’t gone for Busch. How much will it distract him in a full-blown Cup Car? Only he knows.

He should wait at least a few more races before climbing back into the number 18.

David Ragan: Corporate Crisis Management 101

David Ragan, JGR's interim replacement driver for Kyle Busch.

David Ragan, JGR’s interim replacement driver for Kyle Busch.

What do you do when your driver, Kyle Busch, who is arguably one of the top three drivers in Sprint Cup, is going to be sidelined for as long as 8 months? That’s a real problem. It isn’t a simple matter of calling up a reserve driver with the skillset to run with Kenseth and Edwards. They don’t exist.

The solution really isn’t a solution. It’s high dollar corporate crisis management. There are a number of drivers, who are journeyman drivers that for whatever reason will never be in the winners circle with any regularity. You have to choose one of them, but which one fits?

Fits what? First the driver has to fit the entity who pays the big dollars and that means M&M Mars. There are a number of drivers who could take that level of equipment and keep it at the lower end of the top twenty, but they need more than that.

M&M cannot afford to be embarrassed by a personality, off the cuff remarks, a possibility of trashing the car every time it goes out or not giving top notch representation to the company.

Hence the selection of David Ragan. Ragan fits all of the criteria that the sponsor needs. He won’t win, though he has every chance now. He can put it into the top twenty and may even do better. Most importantly, he’s calm, speaks very well and can mitigate the damage to the sponsor by doing a good solid journeyman job.

Young Erik Jones, JGR's future star.

Young Erik Jones, JGR’s future star.

If you look at his record with Roush he never came close to Edwards, Kenseth or Biffle, but he represented the sponsor well and didn’t destroy equipment like a Russian dashcam junkie.

M&M Mars has directed the next 6-8 months to be an interim crisis management period where the effort is somewhat like a physician’s first rule: Do No Harm.

Make no mistake, this was not Joe Gibbs decision. If it were, they would have given that ride to Erik Jones. The 18 year old kid is fast, he wins and is part of the future of JGR. It would have been the perfect time to give him the Cup experience needed to go into 2016 as the next Kyle Larson, if not better. But he’s unknown to M&M’s as a corporate representative.

Could he have handled the Sprint Cup pace under the new rules? Most likely yes, even though the cars should prove to be harder to drive. Often you find the new guy hasn’t embedded old habits into his driving style and could have adapted quickly. But this isn’t about an interim driver winning races, it’s about doing the sponsor’s bidding.

Once they ascertain whether or not the young baby faced Erik Jones can actually represent a company as large as M&M’s and Ragan doesn’t perform to an acceptable level, things could change.

For now it’s one of those unforeseen second chances that drivers at this level just don’t get. David Ragan has the opportunity to move from a forever mid-pack runner to a front runner.

He has to take every opportunity that he can to prove his worth as a driver or he will forever be regulated to contracts that are race to race with teams that are admirably capable, but not JGR or Penske level.

Mr. Ragan had better pull up every ounce of competitive ability and talent that he may never have accessed in order to become a driver that other top teams might look at as a high level performer.

And he has to do it with grace and aplomb. He wont get another chance.

NASCAR: Daytona 500 and Bandicoots On Acid

A jubilant Joey Logano celebrates his Daytona 500 win.

A jubilant Joey Logano celebrates his Daytona 500 win.

This past Sunday the 57th Daytona 500 was held and Joey Logano can finally be comfortable with the “Sliced Bread” moniker given him several years ago.

It was a strong indication that Penske Racing is going to be a factor in 2015 and is the default ‘Factory’ team for Ford.

The weeks leading up to the storied event, however, weren’t so kind to NASCAR.

A change in the qualifying was in order and NASCAR certainly changed it, to the chagrin and openly critical display of the drivers.

To NASCAR’s credit something had to be done. Three hours to qualify for a race is simply too long and takes up far too much valuable broadcast air time leaving a potentially new audience who might tune in to the marathon with a feeling of boredom.

“If qualifying is this boring how much more interesting could the race be” was the comment that I heard most. The problem was that NASCAR simply isn’t Formula One and can’t use a knockout style format with the same level of execution, there are simply too many cars and too many desperate drivers to not have carnage. Carnage they had.

Kyle Busch did not walk away from this crash.

Kyle Busch did not walk away from this crash.

As posted in a previous article our technical expert, Bill Marlowe, suggested the following format, which is worth repeating:

(1) Have all 48-50 cars line up diagonally on pit road.

(2) Each qualifying group would consist of no more than 8-10 cars

(3) In a blind draw, the first 10 cars are selected 5, maybe 8 minutes before they run. This ultimately gives a total of about 5-6 groups.

(4) In a second tandem blind draw, each car selected is given its starting position from pit road.

(5) The 1st ten cars have 5 minutes to line up on pit road.

(6) When the signal is given to go, group 1 has 5 minutes to accelerate, get up to speed and set a time.

(7) While the 1st group is out the blind draw process repeats itself.

(8) While the 1st group is on its cool down lap and coming to pit lane the 2nd group is already being released.

This format would take approximately one hour allowing for any engine failures, crashes or debris on track stoppages.

"The Lunatics Are in the Hall"- Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

“The Lunatics Are in the Hall”- Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

Let’s hope that something is changed for Talladega.

On Saturday Kyle Busch, during the Xfinity race, exited the racing surface and laterally contacted an inside retaining wall that did not have the advantage of a safer barrier. He broke his left leg and his ankle. He’s fortunate not to have lost his life.

You have to believe that the only reason there wasn’t a safer barrier in place is that NASCAR has become so large in its bureaucracy that by committee it couldn’t have foreseen such an accident. That’s what happens when delegating authority too quickly or by committee is employed. After all, the wall was certainly in place for the next day.

How hard was that? Not as hard as Busch’s crash.

Then comes the story that had everyone from TMZ to Al-Jazeera writing about it. Kurt Busch’s indefinite suspension from NASCAR due to a restraining order obtained from his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll.

It’s no secret that Kurt Busch has an anger problem. It’s no secret that NASCAR really has no warm and fuzzy feelings for the elder Busch. It’s no secret that by all outward appearances, both he and Driscoll are crazier than a pair of Bandicoot’s on acid.

However, it seems that NASCAR does, from time to time, exact revenge on it’s detractors or troublemakers. Travis Kvapil really screwed up. He plead guilty of domestic abuse and was given probation and no disciplinary punishment handed down by NASCAR.

Again, NASCAR may have had every reason, and they certainly have the right, to kick Busch to the curb.

It does seem, however, on the surface, to be a bit hypocritical. Maybe yes, maybe no. No one can argue that domestic abuse is both unacceptable and appalling, but how often is it used for revenge? Often enough.

How easy is it to manipulate the courts? Damned easy many times.

Having been a witness in a Florida Capital Case I can tell you that what you hear in a courtroom is not necessarily what happened. Truth becomes an abstract. I watched a very guilty person walk away.

But this is NASCAR and not a courtroom. They are a private, not a public company.

They have stabilized, to a large degree, their loss of viewership. Perhaps not the actual attendees to the race, they may never return, but NASCAR and it’s cadre’ of high paid lawyers weren’t going to take the chance that Kurt Busch could, and he certainly could have, won the Daytona 500 only to be charged with a crime later on.

Ms. Driscoll has exacted her pound of flesh, for now, NASCAR has saved face in the American public’s eyes and there is now a safer barrier where there should have been one all along.

The Daytona 500 went off without a hitch and perhaps NASCAR has listened to the suggestions of others erudite in technical matters regarding qualifying on large tracks such as Daytona and Talladega.

Oh, and Joy Logano won his first Daytona 500 with authority.

Busch In The Hunt As Talladega Looms Next In Chase

Kyle Busch has had nothing but top-10 finishes so far in the Chase. As a result, he's moved up to second place in the point standings.

Kyle Busch has had nothing but top-10 finishes so far in the Chase. As a result, he’s moved up to second place in the point standings.

If Joey Logano, the points leader as the Chase for the Sprint Cup moves into the final race of the Contender Round at Talladega, happens to hear someone breathing down his neck, well, it’s Kyle Busch.

Logano, who drives for Team Penske, has been sensational in the Chase. He’s won twice and finished fourth three times in the five races held so far. His latest victory, at Kansas, moved him comfortably into the Eliminator Round.

But as good as Logano has been, Busch, who races for Joe Gibbs Racing, is nearly his equal.

Busch is second in points and he is only six behind Logano – a difference that can easily be made up in a single race.

In the Chase, Busch has not finished out of the top 10. His lowest finish has been 10th at Dover but in the last two weeks he’s taken third at Kansas and fifth at Charlotte.

Busch was ranked eighth in points with one victory when the Chase began. He’s gained six spots in five races.

Obviously, Busch likes the way things are going.

“It certainly feels good that we’re heading in the right direction at the right time of the year,” he said. “It’s all about peaking at the right time. Hopefully we haven’t peaked yet, and we still have a way to climb. I feel like we do, anyways.

“We haven’t won in the Chase. There’s opportunity there.

“Again, it’s just trying to get ourselves smarter each and every week about making the right decisions and unloading with the right setups in these cars.

Joey Logano, shown here leading Busch, is No. 1 in the standings but Busch is only six points behind after five Chase races.

Joey Logano, shown here leading Busch, is No. 1 in the standings but Busch is only six points behind after five Chase races.

Busch suggested that although he and his team are running well, they would have to be as good – or better – than several others if they hope to ultimately challenge for a championship.

“We certainly have been fighting really hard at Joe Gibbs Racing to get ourselves up to running with the level of competition that we’ve been seeing from our competitors,” Busch said. “Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have really been the cars to beat this year.

“Looking at those four, you automatically punch those four all the way through to the end and those are the guys who are going to be racing for the championship.”

Right now, one would think that Busch might just be racing for the championship also. He and his team have displayed the caliber of performance it takes.

Busch, however, thinks more can be done.

“All the pieces are coming together and they’re all coming together at the right time, as I said,” Busch said. “You can do great things.

“For us, hopefully, there’s still a continuation of that here in the next five weeks. We’ll have to have it.”

The next race of the Contender Round is at Talladega, unquestionably the most challenging track in NASCAR. High speeds in the draft and very close-quarters racing – lap after lap – create a situation where a single mistake can create a massive accident.

And who knows who will be involved?

“Being a winner at Talladega doesn’t matter at all,” Busch said. “It’s such a crapshoot that you never really know who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from.

“The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble.

“If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race.

“Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that’s when it starts to get crazy.”

 

 

Kyle Busch Hopes Slump Ends At His Favorite Track, Bristol

Kyle Busch has been on a string of bad luck lately and he hopes that will change at Bristol. Still, he remains safe as a Chase contender.

Kyle Busch has been on a string of bad luck lately and he hopes that will change at Bristol. Still, he remains safe as a Chase contender.

Lately, Kyle Busch seems to be in the midst of a free fall – or so it seems.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has had a string of uncommon poor finishes as of late and, as a result, he has slipped in the point standings.

It would not appear he’s in any danger of not making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Coming into this weekend’s race at Bristol, he was 15th in points – but seeded eighth in the grid because of a victory.

That aside, what’s happened lately is not Busch’s style, not by a long shot.

Let’s go back to Sonoma in June, eight races ago.

Since that time Busch has finished 25th or worse five times.

Remarkably, in the additional three races he has three runnerup finishes, at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis.

But in the last three races, well, he’s hardly been noticed. He finished 42nd at Pocono, 40th at Watkins Glen and 39th at Michigan.

He once stood sixth in points after Indy. Now, as mentioned, he’s 15th.

You understand, of course, that little of what has happened is the fault of Busch or his team – for the most part, anyway.

It’s been a series of unfortunate mishaps, such as at Michigan, where he lasted just five laps before a crash sent him into the garage for repairs and an ultimate 39th-place finish.

These types of things happen to every NASCAR team at some point, perhaps more often to some than others.

Busch has a remarkable record at Bristol in all three Series. Even though he won the pole for the Aug. 20 truck race, he cut a tire late and finished well back in the pack.

Busch has a remarkable record at Bristol in all three Series. Even though he won the pole for the Aug. 20 truck race, he cut a tire late and finished well back in the pack.

Nevertheless, the timing does not suit Busch, not to mention much of anything else that’s happened.

“We’ve had a tough couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s been a struggle. At Pocono we had an engine deal and then we got behind at the Glen with a fueling issue and crashed.

“Then at Michigan we were good on the first couple of laps on the bottom of the track. I got greedy, took it to the outside and crashed.”

Busch may well think that he can solve his problems at Bristol – as well he should.

At the 0.533-mile track he has 16 NASCAR series victories, five in Sprint Cup, seven in the Nationwide Series and four in the Camping World Truck Series.

In 2010 he became the first driver to sweep all three series races at one track.

But that won’t happen this year. He won the pole for the Aug. 20 truck race and led three times for 81 of 200 laps. He suffered a cut tire late in the event and finished 24th.

He had his chance at redemption in the Nationwide Series race on Aug. 22 and has another in the Irwin Tools Night Race on Aug. 23.

“When they changed the track to this current surface in 2007, I just really took to it right away,” Busch said. “I really liked it and I’ve been fast there, but also I’ve had great race cars from Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It’s just a fun race track no matter what series I’m running there.

“You make one mistake, or someone else makes one mistake, that’s it. We’re hoping things will fall in place this weekend and we get to victory lane.”

That would be a welcome change. Again, although Busch is safely in the Chase, there’s no doubt he would like to see overall performance – not to mention his luck – change.

“I feel like our cars have been mostly competitive,” he said. “They have not been 30th-place cars or anything like that.

“We just haven’t been able to finish.”

So far, through one event at Bristol that seems to remain unchanged.

But it ain’t over yet.

 

 

 

 

      

      

 

      

The Burning Busch: Kyle, That Is….

Kyle Busch could win this Championship if he can keep his mind focused on the big picture.

If anyone in the Sprint Cup Chase field has a ‘surface of the sun’ burning desire to win the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship, it has to be Kyle Busch.

Certainly that’s not to say that the rest of the field are any less on fire to take the top honors, but the Gibbs team has momentum and that counts for a great deal.

However, Kyle Busch may very well be the driver in the Gibbs stable who really is at a deficient when it comes down to closing the deal.

Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are two diametrically opposed drivers in both personality and driving style. Where Kenseth is smooth, nonplussed and focused, Kyle Busch is brash, hot headed and can, and does at times, lose focus.

Two races into the Chase does not a champion make, but as much as everyone believes Sebastian Vettel will take his 4th consecutive Formula One title, the general consensus is that Matt Kenseth will take his second in NASCAR. There are reasons for this school of thought.

Kenseth has the unique ability to adjust both his style and car throughout the course of a race and be at the front when it’s time to ring the dinner bell. He doesn’t get shaken up when something goes wrong or not according to the plan. The ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ and all that. He just adjusts to the situation.

Kyle Busch, on the other hand, can be shaken up, as we saw in 2012, by any number of issues whether they are on-track skirmishes or an ill handling car that he can’t drive through until the next pit stop.

Here’s real the elephant in the room. The ultimate victory for any racing driver is to beat his, or her, own teammate. After all, they’re in the same equipment. But you have to ask yourself the question: Will Kyle Busch take out his teammate if he feels he has to in order to win?

In NASCAR you see a certain amount of camaraderie, at least on the surface. The good old team player mentality. You don’t see that other forms of auto racing. Some of the drivers in F1 have never actually met or spoken to their rivals. Apart from their team mates and most despise one another. NASCAR, not so much until it’s crunch time.

Assuming that the Gibbs team continues to develop throughout the Chase, and that is a big if, we may be treated to two wholly different schools of thought when it comes to winning.

Kenseth has always been the quiet one, the one who races you clean, not much to say but steady as a rock. That mentality is what the odds favor to win the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship.

In racing, always watch out for the quiet ones. They’re thinking.

When racing cars at this level on the absolute edge against drivers who are right there near you, it requires a very focused and cerebral approach. It’s here that the old adage “He who loses his temper, loses” comes into play.

This isn’t UFC, this is chess.

Busch’s strong suit is his car control ability; Kenseth’s is his gray matter ability. That is what will win this championship rather than heroics.

However, we can never lose sight of the fact that Jimmie Johnson is lurking in the mix to spoil the prize for either of the Gibbs drivers, but at this stage even Johnson has a monster on his hands going into Dover.

Busch would have no problem running Johnson wide or pinch him into a corner. I don’t think he would have a problem doing whatever it takes to Kenseth either.

What hasn’t been talked about with any regularity is: Would Kenseth do the same to Kyle? My bet is that his attitude will adjust to the situation as the chase moves forward. In short, yes.

That’s another way of saying he want’s this championship bad enough to go rogue if he has to in order to win.

This years Chase may very well come down to who can be Jekyll when they need to be or Hyde.

They don’t call Dover “The Monster Mile” for nothing.

Kyle Busch Model Of Perfection At Texas

Kyle Busch is all smiles after his victory in the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver swept Texas as he won the Cup race pole, the Nationwide Series race and the NRA event.

There is such a thing as perfection, but to achieve it is very rare.

At Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch was the model of perfection. He could not have performed better – nor could anyone else.

The 27-yeard-old driver for Joe Gibbs Racing won the pole for the NRA Sprint Cup race, followed that with a convincing win in the Nationwide Series race and then he took the big one.

He dominated the field to win the NRA 500.

Busch won everything there was to win at Texas.

It was the seventh time in his career that Busch has swept the NSCS and NNS events during a race weekend – and all seven sweeps have been while driving a Toyota for JGR.

Now, all of this may not sit well with the fans that love to hate Busch – they disapprove of his perceived arrogance – but no one can deny that Busch is one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR.

Yes, he was the last man out in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, losing out to Jeff Gordon.

But he closed the season with seven-top five finishes in the Chase’s 10 races.

After a slow start early in the season, Busch finished fourth at Las Vegas, first at Auto Club Speedway and fifth at Martinsville a week ago.

And now he has won at Texas, which means that over the last 17 races, dating back to 2012, Busch has earned 12 top-five finishes, including two victories.

Busch is fashioning his best season since 2008, when he won eight Cup races, 10 Nationwide events and three in the Camping World Truck Series.

Busch moved from fourth to third in the point standings, just nine points behind Brad Keselowski and 18 behind leader Johnson.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56) finished second at Texas after leading 142 laps. For Truex Jr., it was very disappointing since he hasn’t won in six years.

From the pole position, went on to lead 171 laps, more than any other driver.

However, he lost his lead to Martin Truex Jr., in Michael Waltrip’s Toyota, when Truex Jr. got off pit road first following a caution created by a crash between Marcos Ambrose and Jeff Burton that ended on lap 290.

Truex Jr., having one of his best performances in a long time, led 25 laps before another caution period began on lap 315 due to debris on the track.

This time it was Busch’s turn to lead the field off pit road. He remained the leader until the checkered flag fell.

“Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys gave me a great piece today,” Busch said. “We ran up front all day long.  If it wasn’t for my pit crew, who is the most awesome crew ever – and since 2008 we’ve been together and haven’t had any changeovers.  Man, those guys were awesome.

“They pulled out one heck of a stop right there at the end to put us up front and give us that lead and to be able to bring it home.”

The long-suffering Truex Jr., who has not won a race since Dover in 2007, admitted his loss was extremely disappointing.

“Finishing second is good,” Truex said. “I’m not saying that’s not the case. It’s just when you’ve been so close to winning so many times since your last one, it really sucks to run that good and finish second. Circumstances, the way they play out sometimes, they go that way … ”

“It’s so hard to get in position to win these races. It is so hard to make your car good enough to beat Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch and all these guys; and we had that tonight. We’ve got to get better at taking advantage of that.

“That’s where we’re missing and that’s what we need to work on. So that’s why I’m upset. Second is a great accomplishment, but it’s not what we’re here for.”

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle led the Roush Fenway Racing contingent – normally very strong at Texas, by finishing third and fourth, respectively.

After failing to pass prerace inspections NASCAR confiscated the rear end housings of the Penske Racing Fords of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

Keselowski’s team got it driver on the grid on time but Logano was late and had to start from the rear of the field.

Logano rallied to a fifth-place finish while Keselowski came home ninth.

NASCAR may impose penalties on Penske later this week.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who came into the race third in points, had peculiar race at Texas.

He was in third place when he pitted on lap 188. It was thought his battery was dead and he switched to the backup battery – but had to serve a penalty for being too fast on pit road.

While serving the penalty, Earnhardt Jr. stopped on pit road – which is not allowed. He had to make a second pass and by the time it was all over, he was five laps down and no longer a contender.

He finished 29th and fell to sixth place in points, 35 behind Johnson.

Busch’s night at Texas was, obviously, much the opposite of Earnhardt Jr.’s.

It was flawless.

“It’s good, really good, Busch said. “We’ve had a good start to the season.  It feels amazing to keep this roll going.  It’s so much fun to race with this group.

“We had a talk over the winter and Dave and I had a talk a few weeks ago and things have kind of jelled. We’ve been doing really, really well.

“I’m proud of this bunch and couldn’t say enough about Joe Gibbs Racing.  Everybody back at the shop — all the guys and gals — these cars are amazing to drive, they’re fast, and they’re fun.”

And now we have the proof they can be perfect.

 

 

 

Kyle Busch Confident As Hectic Day For Cup Cars At Indy Moves In

Kyle Busch was the fastest driver in final practice for the Nationwide Series race, which is part of a hectic Saturday schedule at Indianapolis.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – It was kind of surreal.

On a Friday, just two days before the Brickyard 400, there wasn’t a single NASCAR Sprint Cup car on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

There was no practice, no qualifying – nothing.

This was unlike anything in the past. Normally, a Friday before what is generally accepted as NASCAR’s second-most prestigious race would be a day swarming with activity.

The garage area would be teeming with crewmen scattering in every direction as they went about their tasks. Whistles would be shrilling constantly, warning everyone that a rumbling car was on it way to the track – or coming back to the garage.

But on this Friday, there was none of that.

That’s because NASCAR’s weekend schedule at the Brickyard has changed radically. The Sprint Cup race is still the highlight event on Sunday, of course, but it is now accompanied by companion events in the Grand-Am Series and the Nationwide Series.

The new schedule had practice for the Nationwide cars on Thursday and Friday was turned over completely to the Grand-Am sports cars.

Then, well, talk about a busy day – on Saturday Sprint Cup cars would have two practice sessions, followed by qualifying for the Nationwide Series, then Cup qualifying. Finally, at 4:30 p.m., the inaugural Indiana 250 Nationwide race would get the green flag.

That’s a packed schedule …

Most Cup drivers were not at the track on Friday. Those that were either had personal appearances or chose to watch the Grand-Am events.

A few, such as Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, competed in the Grand-Am races.

Many more Cup drivers were active on Thursday as part of two (and only) practice sessions for the Nationwide event, which will be conducted at the Brickyard for the first time after years at nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Busch is in his fifth season with Joe Gibbs Racing and hopes to be the third driver from the team, along with Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, to win at Indy.

Seven of the 10 fastest cars in the final practice session were driven by Cup regulars – which should come as no surprise, given that they are far more familiar with Indy’s 2.5-mile oval.

The Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle, posted the two fastest speeds of the day. Kyle led the way with a speed of 175.838 mph, over a mile per hour quicker than his sibling.

“It felt good for the first time here,” Kyle said. “We’ve just been trying to make the car snug to make it better in the long run. You’ve got to be snug here because the place is so flat.

“Hopefully the car will stay with us all day Saturday.”

Speaking of Saturday, the younger Busch knows – as do all other Cup drivers – that it is going to be very hectic, which means there will be precious little time to make any needed adjustments.

“It’s going to be tight for the crews,” Kyle said. “Their time to relax for a little bit in the garage is not going to happen because they will be swapping back and forth between practice, qualifying and races. There’s a lot to do.

“It is a tight schedule. It’s a good thing I’m not a rookie and I’ve been here a few times in the Cup cars, so the limited time shouldn’t be a problem.”

Regardless of where he qualifies, Kyle will be considered a victory contender in the Nationwide race. He hasn’t won in 2012, but it’s hard to ignore the fact he has 51 series wins, including 13 in 2010.

As for the Sprint Cup circuit, Kyle is 13th in points with one victory. He is currently ranked as the No. 2, and final, candidate for a “wildcard” spot, behind Kasey Kahne.

That’s good, but it could be better.

Even though it is the Brickyard 400, Kyle, whose best finish was a fourth in 2007, maintains there is no real change in his strategy to make the Chase.

“You have to approach the races leading up to the Chase the way you have all the other races all season,” he said. “You go there and try to do the best job you can.

“You want to win on any weekend, so all through practice you try to figure out what you need in you car to make it the fastest you can.

“If the car handles and drives well, you can try a little harder to make speed out of it.”

Now in his fifth season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle hopes to join two former Gibbs drivers – Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte – as a winner at the Brickyard.

“I’m wishing I can put my name on that list by getting a win and running up front,” Kyle said. “You always want to win the big races, the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Brickyard 400, before your career is over.”

For Kyle, like it will be for every other driver, the opportunity to win at Indy will be greater if, on Saturday, total preparation is complete – and the sooner the better.

 

 

 

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