Defending Quaker State 400 Champ Kyle Busch Cooks Up Kentucky Classics
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) "Quaker State 400" champion Kyle Busch visited Kentucky Speedway today to preview the upcoming June 28-30 NASCAR tripleheader weekend and introduce deep-fried, bacon-wrapped bourbon balls and Kentucky Hot Brown Burgers as new track concession items.
Busch joined Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Jo-Jo Doyle and Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger in a "Cookin' with Kyle" session in which the trio prepared and sampled the race day delights.
The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 driver was in somewhat unfamiliar territory in a personalized chef's jacket, but did pick up recipes that should enhance his "home alone" menu. "I don't cook at home, unfortunately, but my wife does. She does a great job, so I leave that to her. Sometimes, when I'm done cooking, I may leave a burner on. About all I make is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. That's my meal deal if I'm home alone," Busch joked.
He's looking forward to being back in familiar territory at the end of the month when he races for a second straight "Quaker State 400" title.
In addition to capturing last season's inaugural 400-mile NSCS race victory, Busch claimed a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) "UNOH 225" win along with a third-place NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) "Feed The Children 300" finish during his July 7-9, 2011 visit to the Bluegrass State. All totaled, he led 186 of the 619 weekend laps he raced and officially earned $301,816.
The 27-year-old wheelman and Kyle Busch Motorsports team owner is the only racer to take Kentucky Speedway event titles in four different series.
He started his Kentucky Speedway legacy by scoring a 205-mile ARCA Racing Series (ARS) victory on May 10, 2003 and became the only driver in track history to earn back-to-back titles in different race series when he delivered a 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series win on June 19, 2004.
The Las Vegas, Nev., native will enter this season's "Quaker State 400" having led 704 of the 1,819 career laps he's raced at Kentucky Speedway through a combined 10 NSCS, NNS, NCWTS and ARS starts in which he's registered a combined six top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
"This is a really fun place to race. (The track) has a lot of character and anytime you can add character to a racetrack, that's better for the racing. I feel like it's better for driver to crew chief communications. You definitely have to have that to make your car faster around here.
"This place being a mile-and-a-half racetrack and not being as high-banked as some of the other places we go, tends to make it more challenging. You've got to know what things you want in your car and what things your crew chief can apply to your car to make yours better than some of the guys out there. That's part of what makes a driver good here. Certainly, we were able to hit upon that last year," he said.
He ranks his inaugural NSCS track win among his most valued race achievements.
"There aren't very many chances anymore in this day and age to have an opportunity to go to a new venue, so to be able to win the inaugural (NSCS) race here was extra special. We love that. To put the M&M's car in Victory Lane meant the most and we'd love to be able to do that when we come back with our red-white-and-blue car," Busch said.
Busch also took note of the speedway's new infrastructure changes and invites fans to watch him try to achieve "Quaker State 400" goal.
"With the new parking lots, pedestrian tunnel and everything that has transpired with the year that's gone by, they've made a lot of improvements. Driving in today, you can notice it.
"Come out to see a great race. We had a lot of excitement (last season). Coming down to the end, there were four or five restarts in a row where the lead swapped between me, (Brad) Keselowski and (Jimmie) Johnson. I know (David) Reutimann even got up there at the end. It was pretty cool," Busch said.
He will enter Sunday's 400-mile event at Michigan International Speedway ranked 12th in the NSCS standings and 103 points off the lead after taking an April 28 victory at Richmond International Raceway and a combined five top-five and seven top-10 finishes through 14 events this season.
"We've got to keep working hard on what we're doing and what we're concentrating on. We had two bad weeks that have knocked us out of the Chase.
"We're eligible for that wild card spot, but we know how vulnerable that spot can be, knowing anybody can rattle off two wins. We're ahead of the wild card race with only one win, but if Joey Logano or even a Ryan Newman or Kasey Kahne get another win, that bumps them up to the lead and we'd be just barely hanging on by that last spot.
"We've got to get ourselves back into the top 10 where we're comfortable and we can try to win some more races to solidify our chances for the Chase," Busch added.
This season's "Quaker State 400" anchors the NASCAR tripleheader weekend that opens Thursday, June 28 with the Camping World Truck Series "UNOH 225" and continues Friday, June 29 with the Nationwide Series "Feed The Children 300."
Tickets, campsites and daily infield Fan Zone passes for all events can be purchased by logging on to http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com/tickets, calling 859-578-2300 or visiting the Kentucky Speedway corporate offices at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, Ky., 41086 just off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and the newly-expanded, seven-lane Kentucky Highway 35.
Story by Mike Schmaltz