When Kyle and Kurt Busch had their media availability scheduled back-to-back on Friday afternoon it became family hour.
[media-credit id=41 align=”alignright” width=”290″][/media-credit]The two tell their tales well. From growing up and going into different racing directions to competing against each other when they could, both have come a long way. And depending on whom you ask, you’ll get different versions of whose better and who won the most races.
Kurt will even tell you that their father told him he had to let Kyle win every once in a while. Being the older brother though, that was hard to do. Good thing that was then and this is now, there’s no way either one would lift for the other.
Reaching the highest level in NASCAR, the Sprint Cup Series, there’s no one they’d rather beat than each other. Family members competing against each other in NASCAR is nothing new, the Busch brothers are the latest to do so and come to Las Vegas with a little more than bragging rights on the line.
In 2009 Kyle won the Daytona 500 of the family, capturing the win in their hometown at their home track. Kurt hasn’t been a slouch here either, making it no surprised that the two are favorites heading into Sunday. It’s also not surprising that it’s a race that’s looked forward to.
“Coming out here to the hometown is always exciting,” said Busch. “There’s a lot of friends and family, the exciting part just being in the hometown.”
While the Kobalt Tools 400 will only be the third race of the season, the two sit atop the Cup Series point standings and ready for a family battle for the championship. While Kurt sits behind his brother an argument can be made that he’s one of the drivers that is off to the best start of the 2011 season.
After going two-for-three in Daytona, a fifth in Daytona and an eighth place last weekend in Phoenix, Busch heads into Vegas with one thing on mind: even the score with his brother.
“The fact that he’s won here, yeah it stings a little bit,” said Busch about little brother Kyle.
“I’ve been on pole, he’s been on pole here. It’s Vegas. It’s one of the top five marquee events of the year. For Daytona, Indy, Charlotte, I think Vegas ranks up there with a lot of guys. With him winning here it was great for our family and all the friends that have supported us over the years. I just want to be able to do it as well.”
Being a past champion, something Kyle has yet to accomplish, there comes a time when it seems there’s not a lot left for the driver to accomplish. Not for Busch, he’s never won the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400 and he does want to, but winning at Las Vegas would just mean more. If he is to do so on Sunday it’ll have to come after saying working on what he says is a No. 22 Shell / Pennzoil Dodge that was “off” in practice.
“You’ve got to get through the bumps that we’ve been struggling with in Turn 1 and 2,” said Busch
“You also have to have a car that doesn’t burn off the front tires which we might struggle with on Sunday. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us on what we can do to improve our car.”
The hope is that their finish on Sunday will propel the team into a season in which they’ll be championship contenders.
“Hopefully, we leave here with a solid finish knowing that we’ve accomplished something special. It’s only three races in. There’s still a long way to go. I always look at the season as the first seven to nine races on where you rank; after that point in the season is how you’re going to settle in for the long summer runs.”
While that sounds great on paper, this is a race he badly wants to win. In order to do so, Busch said his team will be making sure they do and use everything they learned from this race last year over the course of this weekend. He won the pole with a new track record but finished a disappointing 35th last year.
This Sunday Kurt will start behind Kyle on the starting grid. It will make for a long and interesting day as he tries to not only get his Vegas win but keep Kyle from getting another. It shouldn’t be too hard because as Kurt says, whenever it comes to a battle with Kyle, big brother always wins because he know more.