For Kyle Busch, the Chase for the Sprint Cup didn’t go as he would’ve hoped last year as he was kicked out in one of the early rounds due to a wreck at Talladega Superspeedway. Still, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver felt the Chase for the Sprint Cup format was a success as it was “exciting”.
“I thought it was what the sport needs,” he commented. “It’s going to be ultimately stressful trying to come down to the last race of the year and have your whole season just rely on that final pit stop or that final run to the finish to try to win a championship like that. That’s what pressure is all about and that’s what it boils down to when you have to be able to put it all on the line and make it happen.”
Busch adds that the pressure comes with noting that all it takes is one win to get into the Chase, and the fact that if you have the opportunity one week, you may not have it another week so you need to capitalize.
Now entering his 11th season of full-time Sprint Cup Series competition, Busch is hoping to put himself into championship contention and possibly top his best career points finish of fourth in 2013. Though in doing so, he will have to adapt to the new rule changes that NASCAR has implemented with less horsepower and changes to the areodynamics. The Las Vegas native feels that they should bode well for his driving style, based on how he was able to perform in the XFINITY Series that features less horsepower. Last year, Busch claimed seven wins in NASCAR’s second tier division.
“I’d like to be able to keep that tradition going in that series and if I can carry it over to the Cup Series with the cars becoming closer together,” he commented. “I look forward to the opportunity and the challenges that present themselves for this year, but also the opportunity for me to work with Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and to bring him up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level and to hopefully carry on our same success that we had in Nationwide.”
Stevens has been working on the adjustment, noting that one of the biggest thing is the amount of people that work on the Cup side versus the XFINITY side.
“It’s a lot more people to manage and a lot more complicated,” Stevens commented. “There’s about 500 employees at Joe Gibbs Racing and only a small percentage of those are devoted to Xfinity, so as a Xfinity crew chief you don’t get exposed to everything going on (with the Cup program).”
The other big change for Busch – the addition of Stevens. After working with Dave Rogers for the past couple of years, Busch will have a new crew chief calling the shots for his No. 18 M&MS Toyota. Stevens has worked with Busch before in the XFINITY Series where the pair have seen domination and speed on a weekly basis.
Beyond a new crew chief, there’s other changes going on for Busch, such as expecting his first child – a boy – this year with wife Samantha. Busch has been listening to the stories that fellow drivers have offered about fatherhood and says that they have given him a new perspective.
“I have no way to know what to expect with what’s coming, but people tell you all the time what to expect,” he commented. “I think every situation is different. You’re family and your livelihood, how you grew up and how your wife and how they were raised and how they grew up and trying to merge those together into how you want to raise your kid is going to be challenging, but something that Samantha (wife) and I look forward to.”