Busch Eyes Bristol Bounce Back

Kyle Busch

“That was not a lot of fun in Vegas, but I’m looking ahead to Bristol to be sure.” (Photo: Getty Images)


Kyle Busch will try to put a disappointing finish at his home town track in Las Vegas behind him with a better performance in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A blown engine knocked Busch from contention in the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and handed the Vegas native a 38th-place finish in the process.

That bitter pill has been more than enough motivation for Busch to look forward to Sunday’s fourth race of the Sprint Cup Series season.

“That was not a lot of fun in Vegas,” said Busch, who dropped to 14th in the series standings after his disappointing finish. “But I’m looking ahead to Bristol to be sure.”

You can understand Busch’s anticipation to return to Bristol just by looking at his recent performance at the .533-mile track across all three of NASCAR’s top divisions.

After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that victory and since nobody has been better at Bristol than Busch.

Busch has added three more wins, four top-five finishes and six top-10s in the last seven races contested on the current surface including a sweep of the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series weekend last August.

“It’s just kind of really worked well together,” Busch said of his Bristol prowess. “It’s a fun place that you go to that you like going to. You enjoy the race around there. We grew up at the (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) Bullring and stuff like that. Maybe not as banked as Bristol is, but I love going and racing at Winchester (Ind.), Slinger (Wisc.), and Salem (Ind.), where I’ve raced before. Those are all really high-banked racetracks that are a half-mile in distance, or a quarter. They’re really fun to race around and you kind of get a great feel for racing in a bowl.”

However, a lap around the high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway is still quite a challenge even for an established driver like Busch.

“You go down the straightaway and you slam it into the corners and you mash the gas and you kind of sling right back out of the corners,” he said describing his time behind the wheel. “It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art. Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that makes them really good at it and make it seem easy. I remember last spring we were horrible there. You can definitely snap that string pretty quickly.”

Busch was able to master the art of racing around Bristol to perfection last August with his three race sweep and considers it one of the most satisfying accomplishments in his career.

“It was pretty cool because, when you come so close and then don’t get it, it’s pretty frustrating,” he said. “In 2009, we won the Truck race and we were leading the Nationwide race and we got crashed out, and then we ended up winning the Cup race. So, it was probably a year delayed.

“There have been some other times we’ve come close to getting it done at other places, too. It was pretty special. It was cool to be able to put it all together in a complete weekend, with the truck, with the Nationwide car and with the Cup car.”

He’ll only have a chance for two wins this weekend since the truck series is idle but Busch is still pumped for his chance to race again at Bristol.

But he knows the smallest problem or mistake could take him from the ranks of contender in either race.

“You really have to be on your game because, you make one mistake or someone else makes one mistake, like what happened in the fall Nationwide Series race there in 2009 with a car with a flat tire coming down the track and essentially ending our day, that’s it,” Busch said. “Hopefully, we can keep that good luck going there in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend with our M&M’s Toyota.”

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