Busch Puts Talladega Behind Him
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on May 10, 2013 | 10:56 A.M. EST
Busch is ready to forget about last week’s Talladega disappointment and focus on Saturday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kyle Busch is ready to forget about last week’s Talladega disappointment and focus on Saturday night’s Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Busch triggered an early-race multi-car accident in the Aaron’s 499 when he made contact with Kasey Kahne while racing for second place. The impact sent both cars into the wall and set off a chain-reaction melee in its wake that collected 16 cars before it was over.
It marked the second straight restrictor-plate race where Busch and Kahne had an incident. They had issues in the season-opening Daytona 500 back in February. Busch took complete blame for starting the Talladega wreck and earlier this week, spoke to Kahne about the incident.
"He said, 'Sorry, didn’t mean to do it,' " Kahne said of their conversation. "We’re just trying to figure out what keeps happening. At the end of the conversation, I told him I’ll just stay away from him at Daytona (laughing). He said we’ll stay away from each other and then we won’t wreck."
Kahne says there are no hard feelings about the two crashes.
"He just misjudged his front end a little," Kahne said. "The only difference was that he turned me left in one and right in the other. It just happens."
With the matter now in his rear view mirror, Busch heads to Darlington hoping to right the ship after three straight poor finishes that have dropped him to 10th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
Busch conquered Darlington in May 2008, scoring his first victory on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval and - at 23 - earning the distinction of being the youngest Sprint Cup winner in the storied history of NASCAR's oldest superspeedway. Busch also has a Nationwide Series victory at the track "Too Tough to Tame."
That past success gives him an understandable dose of confidence heading into Saturday night’s race, which he knows will be a challenge.
"It’s very one-groovish," Busch explained of the narrow speedway. "You can’t run side-by-side there. Any time you get alongside somebody, you have to let them go. It’s a very big give-and-take-track. It’s a lot harder to pass now, with the fresh asphalt, than it used to be.
"It’s aero-sensitive, to where it used to be more about mechanical grip, getting your car to handle well over the bumps and keeping the tires on it."
But Busch also understands that things have changed dramatically in the sport since the last time he won a Cup race at Darlington, in 2008.
"I won the first year there with the new car and I think it was just because everyone was new to it," Busch said. "I’m hoping that gives us an advantage with this new Gen-6 (racecar) since we’ve been fast pretty much everywhere we’ve gone so far. In 2009, a lot of people got a lot smarter and for us, we fell a little bit behind.
"You have to bide your time. I wasn’t very good at that in 2009 but am much better the last three years or so. You’ve got to make sure you keep working on your car, be patient and be there toward the end."
In addition to trying for a third Cup Series win of the season, Busch will also compete in Friday night’s Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200, which he sees as a benefit.
"The Nationwide Series certainly helps me for the Sprint Cup race the next day," Busch said, "just being able to get that extra seat time, being able to get the feel of what the racetrack transitions are like, what the car does throughout the run and where you have to move around to."
With Doublemint colors on his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Saturday night, pulling off a Darlington double would be a more-than-sweet way for Busch to spend Mother’s Day Weekend.
"We ended up with a solid finish there (fourth place) last year," said Busch, who's slipped from third to ninth in the standings following his win April 13 in Texas. "After the three-week stretch we’ve had, I hope we can bring home a strong finish."