Kyle Busch is 9 for 19.
Not bad numbers in baseball, incredible numbers in racing.
That is Busch’s record in races at Bristol Motor Speedway this decade. It amounts to a 47.4 winning percentage at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
Busch looks to add to that record this weekend when he competes in the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Food City 500 for the Sprint Cup Series.
Despite all the success, Busch looks at his struggles over the last five Sprint Cup races at Bristol. He was runner-up to Kasey Kahne in last season’s Food City 500, but that is his only top-five finish during that time span.
“I’m not exactly sure what makes me so good at Bristol, but we’ve struggled a bit, by my standards, the last couple of years,” said the driver of the No. 18 Toyota in the Cup Series. “I’ve just had a lot of success there, but I’ve also had some misfortune there, too. Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place.”
The fact he likes it is obvious.
Busch, just 28 years old, passed Darrell Waltrip for the all-time track record with 15 wins last season although he does trail Waltrip 12-5 in Sprint Cup Series victories.
Still, Busch can lay claim to something Waltrip or no one else has done, earning a sweep of Truck Series, Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Bristol in August 2010. It’s a record for Bristol and for all of NASCAR, a feat not accomplished at any other track.
“It’s something that’s never been done in the 16 years there have been three series and it hasn’t been done in the four years since I did it,” he said.” There could be a chance for me to do it again, but this race track’s changed so much here that it may or may not come there.”
Further explaining his Bristol success, Busch added it helped that his older brother Kurt is also a five-time winner in the Cup Series at Bristol and he usually has fast race cars from Joe Gibbs Racing.
Still, there is an attitude that goes along with doing well at Bristol.
“It’s just a fun racetrack no matter what series I’m running,” said Busch, currently 10th in the Sprint Cup standings. “We haven’t been as good there since they ground the top, but we think we can get back on track there. No matter what surface, you really have to be on your game because, you make one mistake, or someone else makes one mistake, that’s it.”
That’s it is sometimes the reaction of the Nationwide Series drivers when Busch shows up.
Busch has racked up in the Nationwide Series at Bristol, looking for his third straight win in the No. 54 Toyota on Saturday.
Despite all his success, he doesn’t take for granted how hard it is to simply race at Bristol. To him, it’s truly a driver’s track where the car is never perfect.
“I think the most challenging aspect of Bristol is just how difficult it is to transition through from the straightaways to the corners, back to the straightaways and have your car set up in order to do all that,” he said. “Sometimes you can be really loose getting in, or you can be really tight in the middle – you just seem to never be able to get a good-flowing car that works well there. Drivers have to do a lot of manipulation with the racetrack with their car in order to try to make the best of it.”
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