Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch and new crew chief Ben Beshore were gifted with a win last Tuesday night in the 2021 Busch Clash, when Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney took each other out in the last turn (Turn 14) opening the winning door for Busch.
Now this weekend, Busch is looking to keep the good mojo going and get his first win of the 2021 season in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 At DAYTONA (3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“It’s definitely something you have to work on,” Busch said on if road course racing is something he had to work on of if it comes naturally to him. “With rule changes and tire changes, it’s something you work on every year. There’s always change that you have to work on to be competitive. When I was a kid back in Las Vegas in Legends cars, that’s where I was able to learn about shifting and turning left and turning right. I had the natural instincts for it and won a couple of championships in the winter series we had out there. We actually went to Sonoma back then and ran the national championship races two years in a row and finished third both times, so I had a little bit of experience on road courses as I came up through the ranks.”
Busch currently has four road course wins in the NASCAR Cup Series – two at Sonoma and two at Watkins Glen – but is looking for his first points-paying victory on the Daytona Road Course. If he accomplishes the feat, he will tie Chase Elliott for the series most road course wins among active drivers.
“I think I’m pretty decent,” Busch said on how he’d rate himself as a road course racer. “I didn’t start out as good. A couple of other guys picked it up quicker than I did in my career. Like Chase Elliott, for instance, he’s a really good road racer right out of the gate. It took me a couple of years to kind of get going with it. I enjoy it. I like road racing. But it’s very hit or miss for me, sometimes. I can go to Watkins Glen and run top-three every single time, no problem. But when we go to Sonoma, it’s very hit or miss for us, for some reason. I can run top-three there one year and go back next year and be 10th. Same with the Roval, we just haven’t figured it out as a team and for me as a driver like the other places.”
While Busch added the non-points win last week at Daytona to his resume, the Las Vegas native will look to add another points-paying road-course win this weekend, which would put him in elite company as a road-racing ace in NASCAR’s top series overall. The Interstate Batteries driver’s four career road-course wins tie him with retired drivers David Pearson and Mark Martin on the all-time Cup Series road-course wins list. That’s some pretty good company, already. But with a fifth road-course win, Busch could tie Darrell Waltrip, Tim Richmond and Dan Gurney on the list. There is a bit of distance to the top two spots on the all-time road-course wins list, of course, when it comes to catching Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who have nine and eight career road-course wins, respectively.
Busch scored his fourth career Cup Series road-course win in June 2015 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and he heads to Daytona with 11 top-five finishes and 19-top-10s at the traditional road-course stops on the schedule with 34 combined starts at Sonoma, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, and the addition last summer of the Daytona road course.”
So as Busch prepares for some road racing this weekend, he would like to accomplish a few things, including another tally in the win column for Interstate Batteries colors in the company’s 30th season with JGR, climbing the ladder in the record books as one of NASCAR’s best road-course racers and, of course, the Daytona road-course sweep of 2021.
Busch’s first attempt at the Daytona Road Course last season was grim; he started fourth but was caught in an incident and relegated to a 37th-place finish.
He’s not had the most success on ROVAL’s in general. Busch has finished 32nd, 37th and 30th respectively in Charlotte. Daytona though, Busch said is a different animal.
“I think the whole allure of that place – getting up on the high-banked turns of Daytona in (turns) one and two and then the chicane and bus stop through the backstretch and getting back on the high banks in (turns) three and four – is unlike any other road course ever, anywhere,” Busch said. “No other road course we can race on has banking like that. The allure of the speedway, I felt like, was always the main banking in one and two and three and four, and the tri-oval back to the turn one entrance. The speed you carried from the bus stop to the turn one entrance really lended itself to drafting and making moves with the draft and air. We certainly started the season off right last week by getting the win there. We are celebrating 30 years of JGR and Interstate Batteries together, so we would really like to get these guys to victory lane there and get the Daytona road-course sweep.”
The thing about this week in comparison to last week, Busch feels like he’s in control more.
“I feel like there’s a lot more in your control. When you’re in a superspeedway race, a restrictor-plate race, there’s a lot less in your control. About anybody can win in those types of races. But when you have races like on the road course, it lends itself a little bit more to driver and car and setup and stuff like that. I think we kind of saw a little bit of that last week. There were a lot of comers and goers with tires and tire strategies that kind of got guys in the mix and out of the mix. Typically when you have a Daytona plate race, it’s anybody’s race, really. There’s a little bit of luck involved. Hoping we can come back this weekend and be on the right side of the strategy and bring home the win in our Interstate Batteries Camry.”