Kyle Busch talks upcoming Texas, Talladega races as he battles for a third championship

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 12:28 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2023 at 11:15 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - WSFA 12 News had the opportunity to talk with two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and Talladega spring race winner Kyle Busch ahead of this weekend’s Auto Trader Echo Park Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Busch punched his ticket to the round of 12, and only six races are left on the schedule before a champion is decided.

Busch will have three opportunities to advance into the round of eight beginning at Texas this weekend. Last time out while still racing for Joe Gibbs Racings, Busch did not fare too well at Texas Motor Speedway and is looking to turn things around this weekend and add a fifth trophy from the famed Texas Motor Speedway to his collection.

How do you feel coming into Texas this week with a new team, and what’s your outlook coming into the weekend?

“Yeah, I mean, to us, I feel like the mile-and-a-half stuff has kind of been a little bit more of our strong suit than the short track stuff. So I think that kind of bodes well for us. The eight-car won there last year with Tyler Reddick. So I feel like that’s kind of a bonus. You know, there were a lot of tire failures, a lot of guys that had issues, and all that stuff that was going on in that race. It was a bit of an ugly race. But you know, the eight car ended up out on top, so hopefully, we can take some of that stuff that they had last year and work towards a comfortable driving car for me and a good feeling to where, you know, we’ll have a fast 3 CHI, Chevy, this weekend,” says Busch.

Talking about RCR (Richard Childress Racing). How do you feel to this point in the season this transition has gone? I mean, it seems like you jumped right in, and it was great from day one. But you tell me how it feels.

“Yeah, right at the get-go, it was really good. It was really fast. You know, I thought that the clash went well, Daytona went well, Fontana, we were good. You know, we kind of struggled a little bit at Vegas, where we were just mired around 10 to 12 most of the day, and then, you know, Phoenix was kind of the same way. So we’ve just been working on the program, just been working on all of our stuff, trying to find that right field that I know that I have been successful with in the past, and how you get that out of this race car is different than the old racecar, so a lot of knobs and buttons to kind of figure out in turn, but when you get to the racetrack, and you only have 20 minutes of practice, you don’t have much time to work on something. So definitely figuring out the SIM. You know, whether it’s the real driver sim that we get in on or the behind-the-scenes offline sim that the crew chiefs and engineers use, there’s a lot of tools, and making sure that those tools are talking to us correctly,” Busch states.

How do you feel those Simulators have helped change things? Do you feel like it’s been a positive change in NASCAR?

“Yes and no, honestly, I wish we didn’t have them. You know, I wouldn’t because I feel like it often leads us down the wrong path. So I kind of feel like you should go build a racecar as you remember how to build a race car back in the early 90s. Or even before that, when there wasn’t much computers, there wasn’t much engineering. You know, you knew you needed a bigger right front spring than a right rear spring when you go to this racetrack, or you need a bigger right rear spring than a left front spring when you go to this racetrack. Just stuff like that, you know. Working with the sim as much as we have over the last few years, there’s a lot of building behind the scenes that you got to put into that. To make it right. You know, the computer is only as smart as the people that are inputting the information, so it’s not going to figure it out on its own,” explained Busch.

I have to jump a week ahead now. I know your mind is on Texas, but I will ask you a quick question about that upcoming Talladega race. Talladega was great your last time out. The door opened up, so to speak, right there in the last lap, but at a track like Talladega, where there are these double overtimes and last-lap chaos. How do you prepare for a race like that? In my mind, I feel like you show up, and you go, Okay, let’s let’s hang on, and hope that we can keep all the fenders on. I mean, is it really that way?

“Yeah, pretty much. You know, there’s no real knowing how to win those races. You can do the best possible job out there, do every single move correctly, and then still get beat in the final stretch, so I wouldn’t say there’s a recipe for success there. There are definitely guys that run up front more often than not and can make moves a little bit better than some other guys. But I think it comes down to how good your car is, you know, does it suck up well to the others? Does it get pushed well from behind? Do you have the horsepower you need to make it, you know, alongside guys and the side draft and things like that? So all those things go into it. I don’t know, but for me, I go into those races just thinking like, okay, how can I survive? How can I miss everything? How can I make sure that I’m not wadded up in the 20-car pile-up, and we can have a good day?” Said Busch.

How do you rank these new cars to the older cars on tracks? Let’s talk mile and a half since that’s what we’re coming into. How do they compare to the older cars? If you were given the option coming into this weekend, which one would you want to be in?

“Yeah, I mean, to me, I don’t know. I’m still a fan of the past, I guess. So maybe I’m stuck in the past because I’m an older driver, and, you know, one of those veteran guys that ran those earlier style cars for so long. So, I’m an early-style guy. This new next-gen car is okay, it’s fine. It’s a race car, it’s got four rubber tires, the driver sits to the left of the drive shafts, and it is what it is, you know. I just don’t like the fact that they’re all the same. It’s a kit car, you know, you buy it from the store, build it, put it together, and go race it. There’s a lot of little things that you got to figure out, and there’s a lot of fine minute details that you’ve got to, you know, stay clean on, and that’s where the speeds at. So everybody’s trying to figure out what all those little hot buttons are and what makes this thing tick,” Busch said.

Last question, I don’t want to talk about any of this boring stuff anymore. We need to talk about the real talent in your house. How’s your son been doing this year?

“Yeah, thanks. He’s, he’s been doing good, really good. We’ve had a lot of fun. He’s been winning a lot of races. You know, we’re excited about this week. We are going to Texas tonight. We’ve got practice tonight for a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday showdown. We were doing this race last year as well, and he won, so I feel like we’ve got a pretty good notebook that we can go back there with and hopefully can win again. I’m going to run and have some fun and make some laps as well, so just cool for me to get out there and run on the same track that he does a little bit. Then you know we’re leading the points in two of our home race tracks that we race at for points championships. He’s up-front lead knows, so yeah, I’m excited to finish off the year,” stated Busch.

Kyle Busch and the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field will be back in action this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway for the first of three “Round of 12 playoff races.” The green flag will drop at 2:30 p.m. and you can catch all the action on USA.

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