Kyle Busch made history at Bristol Motor Speedway last August. He could make even more this week.
Coming into tonight’s O’Reilly 200 for the Camping World Truck Series, Busch has five straight wins at BMS. It includes a history-making week one year ago when he became the first driver in NASCAR history to sweep all three national touring series races (Truck Series, Nationwide and Sprint Cup) in the same weekend.
While not the same exact feat as Darrell Waltrip winning seven straight Sprint Cup races, Busch could tie or pass Waltrip’s record of consecutive wins at the track later this week.
“Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place,” said Busch, who picked up career win No. 23 this past Sunday at Michigan. “Of course, I’ve been able to get some help from my brother (Kurt). He’s always been really, really good there. But when they changed the track to this current surface, I just really took to it right away.
“You really have to be on your game because you make one mistake or someone else makes one mistake — that’s it..”
While the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was pleased to put his name in the NASCAR record books a year ago, he couldn’t help but think about the sweep that got away.
“It was pretty cool because when you come so close and then don’t get it, it’s pretty frustrating,” the 26-year-old driver said. “I mean, in 2009 we won the truck race and were leading the Nationwide race and we got crashed out, and then we ended up winning the Cup race. So it was probably a year delayed. It was pretty special. It was cool to be able to put it all together in a complete weekend.”
Bristol is a track where Busch is tied with his older brother, Kurt, and former teammate Jeff Gordon for most wins among active drivers, with five.
The current Sprint Cup points leader grew up racing on the relatively flat short track at Las Vegas, but he prefers racing on high-banked tracks. He explained his favorite driving technique is to go down the straightaway, slam it into the corners, mash the gas and sling right back out of the corners.
“It’s a lot of fun to do that. It’s kind of an art,” he said. ”Some guys are really good at it, and some find a knack that make them really good at it and make it seem easy.”
However, he said, there are times you have to adjust the driving style to be easy in and through the center of the corners for an easy exit off the turns.
Besides it being his favorite race track — with 11 wins overall, only two behind Waltrip — Busch understands why NASCAR fans routinely vote Bristol as their top destination.
“The fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins, and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile race track with us 43 lunatics running around in a tight circle,” he said. “With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.”
Busch is constantly asked why he continues to run all three national series. It’s more than just racking up big stats (back in June he joined Richard Petty and David Pearson to win 100 races in the national series).
“For me, its experience on the race track,” he said. “I learn so many things during the race that I can correlate to my Nationwide car or my Cup car. I like to be able to give that information to my different crew chiefs. They have way different mindsets and thoughts and processes of how to make a vehicle go better and faster.
“I can take all that information that I learned all the way back and forth across all three (series) and try to increase the level of competition in all of those. My encyclopedia fills up quick.”