For most drivers, a trip to Las Vegas just means another date on the Sprint Cup tour. However, for Kyle Busch, it means a trip back home as the driver of the No. 18 M&Ms Camry is from Las Vegas.
“I remember watching it being built and racing over at the short track over the corner there and having some fun, being able to hone in my skills, I guess and somehow make it to this level,” Busch commented. “It’s been a journey, but it’s always fun to come back and race here and we won in 2009 and look forward to always being able to try to capture another win here if we can. This time is no different. There’s just a few different rules this year we’re trying to tackle with yesterday’s test session and seeing what we can learn, getting ready for this weekend.”
Busch says that Las Vegas isn’t really a racer’s town at all as he recalled some of his old school memories.
“I remember back in the early 90’s and whatnot, watching my dad racing Limited Late Models and Late Models and then we started racing dwarf cars in ’92,” he recalled. “Then we started moving around a little bit from Vegas to Pahrump to Mojave to Lake Havasu and places like that. It wasn’t necessarily that we ran in Las Vegas, my dad and brother (Kurt Busch) didn’t necessarily run in in Las Vegas for points until about ’95, Kurt started racing here for Street Stock championship.
“All in all, I remember car counts being so great back then and it was always fun to go to the race track. I remember I had my heroes growing up, not necessarily my dad and my brother, but there were other guys I kind of always pulled for and liked to see do well and stuff like that was kind of neat to see.”
Busch added, though, that it’s nice to see guys like him, his brother Kurt, Brendan Gaughan and Dylan Kwasniewski make it to the Sprint Cup Series after growing up in Las Vegas.
“It’s pretty cool to have four guys from this town, not necessarily a racing town whatsoever,” he added.
With that said, Busch only predicts that approximately 20 to 30,000 of the fans in the grandstands are from the area, while the rest of the seats are filled by out of towners. The attraction with Vegas comes from it being a vacation destination so lots of out-of-towners come.
“Plus, I’ll tell you this, when I was coming up through the ranks I won a lot and probably won too much and didn’t make very many friends, so I’m not sure I don’t have many pulling for me anyways because I kicked their butt too much,” Busch added.
So far this year, Busch hasn’t got off to the best start this year, struggling with handling at Phoenix on his way to finishing ninth. However, Busch isn’t concerned as he says all you need to in these first 26 races of the schedule is get a win.
“If you don’t get a win, then you still want to have a strong start because there still are going to be guys make the Chase without having wins,” Busch added. “For instance, my start is not terrible, I’m 14th in points or something like that, so I’m kind of already in if you look at it that way. Kurt (Busch), for instance has had a horrible start and if he wins here this weekend, then all he has to do is get himself top-30 in points and he’s in. It changes everything the way the whole year and everybody’s strategy is and what all it’s going to boil down to. You never know what you will see next weekend at Bristol. You could have guys racing each other hard for the win and move the other out of the way just to get that win and lock themselves in.”
Busch says as we get closer to the Chase, he doesn’t feel like they’ll be a sense of urgency to get a win – as long as he’s in the top 16 in points and there aren’t 16 winners to date.
“The time or the urgency to get those wins is going to be in the Chase in order to lock yourself in the next (round),” he added. “I think — what’s the first round – Chicago, Loudon and then Dover, so those three – that’s when you start hunting wins really hard and trying to do whatever you can to get checkered flags in the Chase.”