The last time Kyle Busch competed at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, he found himself in victory lane at the end of the night.
While the victory was 13 years ago in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), hopes to pick up where he left off back in 2009 as the NASCAR Cup Series will make it’s much anticipated debut just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis during Sunday’s inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300.
As Busch heads to St. Louis this weekend for the first race there in NASCAR’s top series, he hopes to keep up his recent form after a solid runner-up finish in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600. The Las Vegas native has brought home four top-five finishes and seven top-10s in his last eight points-paying Cup Series starts and has back-to-back top five finishes at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Charlotte.
Busch’s win in April at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway all but locked him into this year’s playoffs. But, as usual, he’s always looking for more. The two-time Cup Series champion currently sits third in the standings, 37 points behind leader Chase Elliott, and Busch hopes to keep gaining on the lead and accumulate as many playoff points as possible with 12 races left in the regular season.
As far as Busch’s record at St. Louis goes, he has made three Xfinity Series starts there with two top-five finishes, which includes the win from 2009. Busch will hope to glean information from his Kyle Busch Motorsports team, as the Camping World Truck Series in which it competes fulltime has raced at the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway oval for the past eight years.
So as the series heads to St. Louis for the inaugural Cup Series race at St. Louis, Busch hopes to pick up where he left off and get his SNICKERS Toyota Camry TRD back to victory lane there, a place he has been before.
What do you think about the Cup Series’ first race at Gateway?
“Gateway is very tight, very narrow. It can be slick, too, from what I understand talking with my KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) Truck Series guys. The long back straightaway getting into turns three and four, which is a huge, wide, sweeping turn, and a completely different way of driving both of those corners. Hoping we can have a good practice on Friday afternoon and get our SNICKERS Camry where it needs to be in the race to compete for the win.”
Do you know what you will need at Gateway with your prior experience there?
“I would say that just being able to run there before and knowing the racetrack itself would give you a little more than somebody who has never been there before. But honestly, having a normal practice weekend, everything will kind of shake out pretty evenly at the end of the day. I’m looking forward to getting back there. It’s been a long time.”
What do you think of the changes in the racing schedule for the Cup Series over the last couple of years?
“I think just being able to have some diversity in the schedule, being able to go to different places and have different tracks is a good thing. Maybe getting some new fans out to the track, or turning on the TV with some of the new places and new markets, is definitely a positive for our sport.”
With Lennix’s recent birth, how has it been going at home, getting used to your new addition to the family?
“It’s been great. It’s been really exciting and, having a chance to welcome a newborn into the world, it’s been fun. Obviously, she’s a baby, so certain things are expected – crying, getting up in the middle of the night for some feedings, nothing different than what I recall from the time that Brexton was that small. Just taking care of her – thankfully, Mom is helping out a lot, especially on race nights, taking care of the duties. I get to help with that during the week, so it’s all good. Brexton is being an awesome big brother. He’s been a part of this journey since the very beginning – wanting a baby sister, praying for a baby sister. Now that she’s here, that seems to be complete and all is healthy, so all is good.”