Busch Seeking Kansas Turnaround
By: Dave Rodman on October 6, 2011 | 9:30 A.M. EST
"I've really never had much luck at Kansas in the Cup car, so I'm hoping we can turn that around this weekend." (Photo: Getty Images)
It's been seven races since Kyle Busch took his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to Victory Lane in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 will mark the ninth time that Busch has raced a Sprint Cup car at Kansas Speedway and the record book points to this track being an unlikely place to break that string.
Busch has finished outside the top-10 in each of the last five Cup races he's run at Kansas. In fact, he has only one top-10 finish in his eight prior Kansas Cup starts. He led 11 laps in June and finished 12th in the STP 400. Add it all up and you'll find that Kansas hasn't been particularly kind to Busch.
"It's not that you might not like a track or might not like a race or something like that," Busch says. "It's just a matter of trying to figure it out. Once you kind of get it figured out or get the right situations kind of lined up, you can have a shot.
"I look at this place a lot like Michigan. That's a place that I struggled at for a long time, but we finally were able to break through for a win this year. Of course, just like Michigan, as soon as I figure it out, they are going to repave it just like they are going to do at Kansas, but it would be nice to get a win on the current surface at Kansas before they do the repave just like we were able to do at Michigan."
This is the first time that Kansas has hosted two Sprint Cup races in a single season. Busch thinks the additional race can only help him figure things out.
"We go to Indy once a year. We go to Chicago once a year, a lot of different racetracks once a year," Busch says. "It's a little bit different challenge because you've got to remember that far back. I think the more (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) and the guys go there, we will keep learning, and it will only help us with our notebook of information.
"Dave is really good at learning from past races. He's constantly thinking about ways to improve things, especially at places where we've struggled. I've really never had much luck at Kansas in the Cup car, so I'm hoping we can turn that around this weekend. I've run well there at times but seem to be snake-bitten a bit with mechanical issues or getting caught up in an accident. We're hoping we can turn that around this weekend.
"After the Chicago race last year, we basically threw out our notebook and started over. We ran really well there this year even though the result didn't show it since we ran out of gas, but we're hoping to take what we learned at places like Michigan and Chicago, where we've run well at those intermediate tracks and, and apply them to Kansas."
The spring race at Kansas and the first two races in The Chase boiled down to fuel mileage. It's been just that kind of season, and Busch knows that the fuel question could easily come to play on Sunday.
"It's probably just a matter of either being in a position to gamble, more times than not," Busch believes. "When you're trying to conserve fuel, it's pretty much all on luck. You try to roll out of the gas early and be smooth getting back to it. You'll probably save a drop here or there, but nothing that's going to make a big difference.
"I think four times in my career I've tried, but I didn't make it on three of them. It depends on the scenario. If you're short by three laps with 60 laps to go and you go green the rest of the way, if you start saving, you will go for it. But if you're short five laps, if there is no other way but to stop, you might as well come in early and then go for it."
Still, it can be frustrating for Busch not to make a pass when he's trying to save fuel and preserve his car for the end of the race.
"Yeah, you want to race those guys who are around you all of the time," Busch explained. "You want to go, 'There's a car in front of me. I want to pass that guy.' That's what's in your blood to do. Sometimes you've just got to back off a little bit and let the race play out. You've got to get to the end on the final pit stop. Once you get to the final pit stop, then the race is on. That's kind of the way it works out.
"This place (Kansas Speedway) can suck you in and it can suck you in pretty easily – into the wall, I mean."