Kyle Busch won Saturday night’s inaugural NSCS race at Kentucky Speedway — his second win of the race weekend (NCWTS on Thurs., July 7).
Busch moved into first-place in the NSCS point standings (624 points) following the win. He leads second -place Carl Edwards by four points.
Busch now has three NSCS wins this season. Earlier this year, Busch won races at Bristol and Richmond.
Busch has now won races in four different series at Kentucky Speedway — the NSCS, the NNS, the NCWTS and ARCA.
Camry driver David Reutimann followed Busch to the finish and claimed a second-place finish – his best result of the 2011.
Five Camry drivers — Busch, Reutimann, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. – combined to lead the field 10 times for a total of 139 laps. Busch led six times for a race-high 125 laps, Reutimann led seven laps, Hamlin led five laps, and Kahne and Truex Jr. each led one lap.
All five Camry lap leaders finished in the top-20 overall. In addition to Busch and Hamlin finishing first and second, respectively, Hamlin was 11th, Kahne took 13th and Truex finished 18th.
Other Camrys in the field included Joey Logano (14th), Casey Mears (25th), Bobby Labonte (26th), Brian Vickers (27th), Joe Nemechek (39th), Michael McDowell (41st) and Mike Skinner (43rd). Other Toyota drivers in the top-20 in the unofficial NSCS point standings after 18 of 36 races are Hamlin (10th), Kahne (17th) and Logano (20th).
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st What does this win mean? “This is cool man. This is right up there with the best of them. I haven’t won the big ones, so this is as good as it gets right now. I can’t put it into words. I’m tired. I’ve been screaming the whole time. This is cool. The way we ran tonight was awesome. I can’t say enough about everybody at M&M’s, Snickers, Pedigree, Combos — Toyota Camry, a car built right here in Kentucky, so home of the Camry. It was a fun night. It was a tough night. You know, I thought pit strategy was going to kind of go either way sometimes, but there at the end Dave (Rogers, crew chief) made the right call and got us the tires we wanted and the fuel that we needed and that’s what won us the race.”
How was your race team ahead of the game all night? “We were right there. And, I credit it all to Dave Rogers (crew chief). It’s the reason Joey Logano had his success here and I think I’ve got it. It’s all a part of Joe Gibbs Racing though, that’s what matters. These guys are phenomenal — these guys on pit road. They did a great job — the ‘A’ team working on this thing. The engineers, everybody back at the shop, they gave me a great effort. We come here. We unloaded — we unloaded really strong. It was really good off the truck. That’s where it all started this weekend. We didn’t have much work to do.”
What’s going to be the most impressive part of tonight’s win when you think about it tomorrow morning? “That I won on my way to Slinger (Slinger Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin). I got to go to Slinger tomorrow. So, I’m going to stay here tonight and chill out and get a good night’s sleep and get out of here in the morning and head up there and hopefully win a Late Model race.”
How does it feel to make history as the first Kentucky Speedway race-winner? “Man, that’s pretty awesome. I can’t say enough about everybody on this team. Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing — all the guys that work in the shop and the engineering department and everywhere that gave us a great car to come here with. We unloaded right off the truck really strong. So, this M&M’s Camry was fast. Thank all the people that help us make it here. When we unload that good it seems like the weekend kind of flows a little easier. There was still some tough competition with Jimmie (Johnson) and Brad (Keselowski). There at the end I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out on the restarts. Earlier in the race, Brad and I and Jimmie were kind of duking it out back and forth a little bit. Had some good racing going on. We were kind of slipping and sliding. Made for interesting moments, but we prevailed and got to victory lane. Thank the ‘A’ team a lot. Thank Dave Rogers (crew chief) a ton and the guys on this pit crew — they did a great job. Great pit stops all night.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) Do you start hearing things when you have a dominant car like tonight? “Yeah. I started hearing things about lap 35, lap 40. I was wondering what’s going on — what am I hearing these things for. But, those are just kind of the days when you know the car’s driving good and you know you’re running up front like that. It’s like, ‘Man, this can be one of those nights, or it can be one of those nights,’ you know? I’m fortunate and blessed that we’re here in victory lane right now and in front of the great state of Kentucky — all the fans that come out here today. To win the inaugural one is pretty awesome. To do it from being fast in practice all week and earn it ourselves feels extra good. Special congratulations to Toyota tonight — the Camrys are built right here in Kentucky. So, we’re pleased we are able to bring them a win tonight.”
How does it feel to win two of three races this weekend? “Yeah. Not too bad. I’m sure Ratcliff’s (Jason, NNS crew chief) busting himself right now that we didn’t get that one too. Our Nationwide program was something special the last few years and we’re just missing a little bit right now. It’s not something to hang our heads about. We’ve won a lot of races. So we’ll get back to it.”
How were you able to hold off Jimmie Johnson on the final restart? “Did Jimmie (Johnson) and them (the No. 48 team) come get tires on that one restart? I knew he had fresher rubber than I did for a restart. I tried to do the best I could at being able to get a good restart, but I overshot my acceleration just by a little bit and spun my tires a fuzz. That allowed him to get a little bit of momentum on me. He got a good start. We had to race down into turn one side-by-side rather than me getting a jump on him. I was just hoping that the outside lane would prevail, I could get a run through there, carry my momentum and clear him down the backstretch, race him into turn three. It was certainly a tense moment there for a second. But, after I took the white, I saw the 00 (David Reutimann) coming on the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and getting there to make a move on him. I was like, ‘C’mon, Reuty. If you start racing him and hold him up, that’s going to help me.’ I cannot just cruise through turns three and four but concentrate on hitting my marks rather than seeing if somebody would get in my mirror. It was awesome also to have a Camry come home 1-2 — home state of where the Camry is built.” Would it be special to get your 100th win at the Brickyard? “I’m hoping it comes at Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway), sorry. Certainly, whenever the next one is, I’ll be cherishing it just as much as I did the last one. To me, I don’t want to wait that long for win 100. Hopefully, we get the opportunity to run up front again and, you know, have a chance to win some other races before we get to the Brickyard. Brickyard is still a little ways off. Maybe we can talk about 104 or something by then.”
DAVE ROGER, crew chief, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st How did you setup your car to be so strong tonight? “Like Kyle (Busch) said, the engineers did a great job. We came off the truck really close to setup. Sometimes that’s bad. We came off the truck really close. Actually sat out a little bit, wanted to give Kyle a breather. We let Denny (Hamlin) get in the car and drive it, see how he liked it. Then Kyle went and drove the 20 (Denny Hamlin’s) car for a while. We started playing driver swap, so the cr ew chiefs could compare notes down the road. Then when we got back in the car, got Kyle back in the car, some teams had made some progress and started going faster than us and we started playing catch-up. But, Kyle did a good job during test day of talking about what he was going to need to race. We didn’t focus on our lap times practicing, we focused on what we needed to race — gave me some good feedback after the truck race, made adjustments to our primary car yesterday morning. We were off in speed a little bit, but the car was doing one thing only, which is a good thing. Made some adjustments this morning. During the race, we didn’t do much to it. Took a little wedge out nearly every stop, but that’s about it. I think Kyle did a great job of dialing this team in while we were here Thursday and Friday.”
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 TUMS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 2nd Did you enjoy the first race at Kentucky Speedway? “It was a great race man. It was a phenomenal race. The track’s got character. You can’t drive it on the bottom. You got to run to search around and it’s a little bit rough on places, but in the end it’s a great race track and I think it was a good finish.” -more-
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 00 TUMS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing How was the end of the race? “We had that restart and you knew Kyle (Busch) wasn’t going to roll over for anything and Jimmie’s (Johnson) pretty intense too, so we just ended up coming in and Kyle threw a block to kill Jimmie’s momentum down the front. I had a little bit of run down the back and Jimmie was either going to go to the top or the bottom getting in and I was not going to go where he was. And he went to the bottom and our car actually did pretty good on the outside, so got a run on top and got it back to (Turn) four pointed in the right direction and Jimmie gave me enough room up there. He could of crowded me and he didn’t and we ended up getting a decent finish.”
Why are you so strong on 1.5-mile tracks? “I love these types of race tracks. In the end, I think our program is a little stronger at these places. I don’t know if it’s anything the driver’s doing anything different, I just think our car and our program is good here. Toyota brought great horsepower this weekend. A new configuration car helps us a lot too. Hopefully we’ll keep moving forward.”
How has your team improved you car of late? “Yeah, I mean, this is one thing about this sport, it changes every week. We seem to have been behind on things. We knew we were behind, but you just don’t make changes overnight. Between the help of Toyota and their engineering staff, Toyota Racing Development, all the guys at Michael Waltrip Racing, guys being in the wind tunnel, working their guts out, finally got us a car — at least this weekend — we’re closer to what we needed. Not that we’ve had bad cars in the past — the guys you’re running against, their cars constantly evolving, changing things — we’re trying to catch up sometimes. Everybody at MWR is doing a really good job.”
Is your improvement rooted in technological changes or setup? “Setup-wise, we’re not all that different than we’ve been on the mile-and-a-halfs in the past. Coming up with things aero-wise, it’s a total package to what you do to the car. Anymore, there’s such small gains on the cars, you can’t gain one big thing. You try to do things that eventually help the car. That’s what we’ve done. It’s certainly not a different breed of a car than what we’ve had. It’s a lot of subtle stuff that seemed to make a difference. Better numbers in the wind tunnels. They say you have common templates, everybody’s car is the same. Well, they are not. You have to work harder to get gains and that’s what our guys have been doing.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 11th Was tonight a tough race? “It was a fight. We just would not get any practice, so it was just tough to overcome that. It was just all traffic — just really nobody could make a lot of moves and pass. We were a victim of one of those cars. We couldn’t make any moves, especially when it came night time it seemed like our car went away from us.”
Why did the end of the race feature many cautions? “I think everyone was just being patient in the beginning and I think by the end the intensity picks up. It becomes harder to pass. Everybody gets a little anxious as soon as the night time comes.”
Are you ready to head to New Hampshire? “I’m looking forward to going back to a short track. I feel like that’s our strong suit, so we’ll try to get back in the top-10 in points and we’ve got to keep digging.”
KASEY KAHNE, No. 4 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 13th -more-
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 14th How was your first NSCS race at Kentucky Speedway? “We should have finished better than where we did. At the beginning of the race we were way, way, way too tight — couldn’t get it better. We were struggling there to get it better. Got it good at one point at the middle part of the race. We worked our way back up there and it felt like we we’re a top-10 car. Then for some reason as the speed started picking up, the sun went down and it got tighter again. Trying to free it back up. Then we caught every caution exactly the wrong way every time there was cycling through we were the ones who got caught — got caught under the green and then the caution come out, so had the wave around twice, which didn’t give us the time to adjust on my car and make it better. I’m proud of what we did today. We definitely fought hard. All of us worked real good together. I’m proud of that, for sure. Probably we just screwed out of a couple of spots by those things and really do much about that — about cautions falling out that way. Feel like we should have finished in the top 10, but we fought back strong. I think we finished 14th — not where we wanted, but overall our performance was there today.”
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Good To Go Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 18th “That was a tough night for the NAPA Know How team. We started slow and then it looked like we were going to get a good finish but our car kind of plowed there at the end. We are gaining on it and I’m looking forward to New Hampshire.”
CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 25th
BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Cottonelle Clean Care Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Finishing Position: 26th
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Camry, Red Bull Racing Team Finishing Position: 27th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 NEMCO Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 39th
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 66 Standard Publishing/Relentless Hope, PRISM Motorsports Finishing Position: 41st
MIKE SKINNER, No. 60 Big Red Toyota Camry, Germain Racing Finishing Position: 43rd