Each and every week in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Busch sets out to beat the other 39 competitors in order to be the one driver to take home the checkered flag.
The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion did so for the fifth time this season last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Not only did he come home victorious on Sunday, but did it in dramatic fashion with some last lap fender rubbing with the talented Kyle Larson.
Not only did he beat Larson to the line at Chicagoland, but Busch beat the heat as well with ambient temperatures in the upper 90’s and temperatures inside the car topping 150 degrees. So as the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR)looks ahead to Saturday night’s traditional midsummer Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway he knows he not only needs to beat his fellow competitors, but also the Florida summer heat.
This part of the season happens to the hottest for Cup Series competitors, with select race venues seeing record temperatures, but also for those who are heading out on their summer road trips. The summer months can be taxing on both man and machine, whether it’s on the road or at the track. Caring for the latter is one of the ways JGR founding partner Interstate Batteries leverages its NASCAR program, through reminding consumers to have their batteries checked during the hot summer month’s at a local dealer prior to any summer road trips.
Interstate Batteries’ colors are already in the win column in 2018 via Busch’s victory in April at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth in the backyard of Interstate Batteries’ corporate headquarters in Dallas. Busch and the No. 18 team look to add another victory Saturday night at Daytona, where they head with a little momentum on their side as they are coming off the aforementioned thrilling win at Chicagoland last weekend.
When it comes to Daytona this weekend, Busch is certainly no stranger to victory lane in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, having won the July 2008 race behind the wheel of – yes – the Interstate Batteries Toyota. The Las Vegas native has fared much better in his summer races at Daytona during his career as the track is much more slick thanks to Florida’s July heat. He has five top-five finishes in his 14 July starts at the track.
With all of that on his side, Busch hopes to have a strong car and track position in the unique restrictor-plate style of racing, where a driver not only has to be good, but must have good fortune to go along with it. He would like nothing more than to start July in the best way possible – by bringing the Interstate Batteries green-and-white-striped paint scheme to victory lane Saturday night. Even though Busch is focused on beating the rest of the field, he and Interstate Batteries will also look to beat the heat during the remaining months of summer.
|KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:|
|Is Daytona still a special racetrack for you?
“Daytona is cool – a lot more in February than in the summer just because it is the Daytona 500 versus the July race. For us, you still want to win everywhere you go, every single week. To win at Daytona is always cool. It’s definitely special. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR – the superspeedway aspect of it. I definitely love going there. It’s hot, it’s slick, and you can make the most out of yourself as a driver and what you’ve got in the car. We won there in 2008 and I’m hoping we can get a win with our Interstate Batteries Camry this weekend. Hoping all the fans go out and get their batteries checked with the summer heat upon us now, especially the last couple of weeks. Interstate Batteries has quite the legacy with JGR and I’m always proud to represent those guys and we hope to get a win for Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) and get them another win.”
What do you do to prep for the night race at Daytona?
“It’s going to be a hot one there, too. Right now it’s all about getting your fluids back in you throughout the entire week. You’re not going to get them all back in one or two nights. It’s going to take the entirety of a week. You’ll start over again after that race goes. It’s Daytona. It’s restrictor plate racing. It’s entirely different than what we plan for the entirety of the season mostly. A lot of different planning goes into that. I think we’ll be down in Florida already for the fourth of July. Hopefully there’s some pretty good firework shows. We’ll check it out.”
When you look at guys who have won restrictor plate races in the last few years, it seems there’s guys that win more often than not. Why are these guys winning more at restrictor plate tracks?
“You got to be good, but there’s still a lot of luck involved. You got to be out front. When your cars are fast, you need to do a good job, you know how to lead it, get yourself through traffic, you’ll be out front a lot of the times. The 2 car is very hard to pass, he’s very fast. When those guys are out front, they seem to be able to control the race. Last year I think it was a Duel, maybe the Clash at Daytona, Denny was trying to go for the lead, get to his inside and pass him. No, Denny was leading, trying to hold Brad off, they ended up crashing. So hard to hold those fast cars back, if you will. They do a good job of being able to predict the lines and how they build the inertia and everything behind them.”
Is there a skill and art, anticipate making a move?
“Yeah, I don’t ever really think when something is going to happen. That’s a spur‑of‑the‑moment thing, it just does happen. As far as being able to make your way, make your maneuvers and things like that, Brad and Denny are probably some of the best at being able to do that. I try to watch a little bit about what they do and how they do it. I’m just not very good at emulating that. They have a really good sense of what’s going on behind them, how they can make the lines kind of build up that inertia, that pressure, it kind of shoots them forward. The only thing I see behind me is a car. I can’t really see what’s going on three, four deep. Any time I try to back it up and stall it in order to get that inertia or get that run going, somebody just pulls out and wants to pass me. Obviously I’m doing something wrong.”
What are some of the better safety improvements you’ve seen in the last couple of years?
“I think, of course, the things Daytona has done with the SAFER Barrier along the whole outside and inside of the racetrack. There are too many different areas on these racing surfaces where we can get out of control and crash into things. We’ve seen that over the years – I think most notably maybe Mark Martin at Michigan several years ago, getting caught on that inside pit wall. We tend to find about anywhere to hit, so it’s just a matter of trying to protect ourselves as well as the race fans and our crew members as best as possible.”