Busch Seeks Martinsville Win

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch has won four of his last eight NCWTS events, but never at Martinsville. (Photo: Getty Images)

Martinsville Speedway’s winner’s trophy is one of the most distinctive in motorsports. The custom-built Ridgeway grandfather clock is proof that a driver has survived one of the most difficult races on the schedule.

Kyle Busch has won plenty of trophies. He’s visited Victory Lane in four of the last eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races he’s entered. But there is one vacancy in Busch’s trophy case - a Martinsville grandfather clock.

"One of these days, I'm going to get a win at Martinsville,” Busch says. “I've run a lot better in both the Truck Series and (Sprint) Cup recently to where I've at least had a shot at a win. We had a really good truck last fall a truck that was capable of winning. Unfortunately, we didn't have anything left for the 33 at the end of the race. Ron (Hornaday) had a really strong truck and outraced me in the closing laps."

Busch’s battle with Hornaday came last fall, when he finished a career best second after starting from the pole.

Martinsville’s tight confines leave no room for driver error. Busch led a race-high 139 laps in the 2009 Kroger 250 before being penalized for a commitment line violation late in the race. The error erased his chance to win and left him with a 17th-place finish. Busch still relishes the challenge of competing on the paperclip-shaped track.

"To be successful at Martinsville, you have to be really consistent and smooth,” Busch explains. “As the run goes along, you have to adjust your line. Because Martinsville is so tight and such a small track, a small change in your line can make a big difference. If you change your line by just six or eight inches, it can really affect your lap times. A big part of that is knowing what changes to make and how much of a change to make . . . not only over the course of a run but over the course of the race."

Crew chief Eric Phillips and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team will rely on a proven chassis at Martinsville.

"The (Kevin) Harvick (Incorporated) trucks beat up on us on the short tracks last year,” Phillips says. “Our big project this off-season was to build a new and improved short-track truck. Chassis 007 made its debut at Phoenix in February and we accomplished our mission of beating the KHI trucks. We're looking forward to seeing how 007 fares in its second mission this weekend at Martinsville. There aren't many tracks that Kyle doesn't have at least one win at, so hopefully we can get him his first at Martinsville on Saturday!"

If Busch and his crew are successful in their efforts, he would have a chance to take his second straight Camping World Truck-Sprint Cup weekend sweep. Busch still isn’t comfortable in projecting Martinsville success.

“If I had Jeff Gordon’s or Jimmie Johnson’s success there, then I would be comfortable going there,” Busch says. “I’ve had some decent runs there, where I’ve felt like we’ve had a car to win and had a shot to win. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the track position toward the end of the race. Jeff (Gordon) is so good there, and Jimmie (Johnson) and Denny (Hamlin) are also good there. They are probably the three most difficult guys to pass there because they know the place. They know how to get off the corner and how to roll the middle of the corner there. Everything is timing, and their stuff just works, whatever it is.”

Regardless of whether you’re racing cars or trucks, Busch believes that staying out of trouble at Martinsville can be an elusive goal.

“It’s just a short racetrack and you’ve got to try to have a good car,” Busch explains. “But it’s hard to have a good car there with the field as tight as it is. Qualifying up front seems to help out a little bit. We know who the guys are who are going to be tough there. Really, there’s nothing you can change about that racetrack to stay out of trouble. Basically, you can be leading the race and have a wreck in front of you while you are trying to lap some guys, and that could be it.”

Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of the Kroger 250 from Martinsville Saturday at 1:45 p.m. (ET) on your local MRN station, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 128.

Race Center

Nextera Energy Resources 250

@ Daytona International Speedway
Friday, February 20, 2015
Radio Start:
MRN, 7 p.m. (ET)
TV Start:
FOX Sports 1

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