Nascar Sprint Cup Series Leader Kyle Busch Turns Kentucky Test Laps
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship leader Kyle Busch was one of eight drivers battling scorching temperatures near 90 degrees while turning test laps on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval today.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver notched his Sprint Cup Series-leading sixth win of the season at Daytona International Speedway July 5 as well as his 11th top-five and 12th top-10 finish through 18 of 36 events this season.
Busch took the victory by easing the nose of his No. 18 car in front of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford of Carl Edwards as the 11th and final caution period of the race started on Lap 162. "It was a great night for us. We had a pretty good car. It wasn't the best one out there, but it was good enough where we were able to get it up towards the front and race there much of the night.
"The Roush cars behind us were really strong when they got tied up together; they were really working well as teammates. I just kept my foot in it, tried to beat him (Edwards) and finish the race up front. Then, the caution came out when I got my car in front of him," Busch said.
He stated flexibility will be the key to maintaining the form that has helped him win four of the last eight series races during the first night race at Chicagoland Speedway July 12.
"Chicago, because it's going to be its first night race, nobody is really sure what it's going to do from day to night. At Charlotte, everybody knows it tightens up to a 10 on the Richter Scale, just a lot. Chicago, we don't know whether it'll loosen up, whether it'll tighten up or whether it'll just stay the same.
"So, to set up our cars during the daytime in the heat of the sun and then go into the race at night, we're all really going to have to have a lot of adjustability built into our cars to get it right; to make it to where we can adjust on it during the race to make it better. For everybody, it's the same game, but whoever does it the best will win," he added.
In addition to taking notes for his primary race machine, Busch was gaining valuable track time that should prove beneficial when he returns July 19 for his planned NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" start on the Sprint Cup Series off week.
With two wins, four top-five and six top-10 finishes already on the books through eight NCTS starts with Billy Ballew Motorsports this season, Busch will be looking to add a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title to a Kentucky Speedway resume that already includes a 2004 NASCAR Nationwide Series win and 2003 ARCA RE/MAX Series win.
His official bid for the NCTS championship title ended last month, however, his desire to place his race machines in Victory Lane remains firmly in tact.
"Kentucky and St. Louis are two weeks that are together for the truck and Nationwide stuff. I never really had plans to run in the Nationwide Series, so we're just going to run the truck race here.
"I believe there's a way that you drive the trucks and the Nationwide cars; that's full out, as fast as you can go. The harder you go, the faster you can go. In the (Cup) cars, you have to pace yourself a little bit," he concluded.
Drivers joining Busch for today's test session included his teammate Denny Hamlin; Bill Davis Racing prospect Michael Annett; Dale Earnhardt, Inc., driver Paul Menard; Hall of Fame Racing's J.J. Yeley; EM Motorsports driver Johnny Sauter; Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears; and JR Motorsports driver Brad Keselowski.
The fourth of five event weekends on the 2008 Kentucky Speedway schedule opens Friday, July 18 at 4:30 p.m., with ARCA RE/MAX Series qualifying for that night's "Kentucky 150." NCTS final practice will follow at 6:30 p.m., and the "Kentucky 150" field will take the green flag at 8:00 p.m.
Gates open at 2:00 p.m., July 19. NCTS "Built Ford Tough Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" qualifying will begin at 3:30 p.m., the Blood Sweat & Tears 40th Anniversary Tour makes its stop on the Turn 1 Concourse at 5:30 p.m., and the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" begins at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Kentucky 150" and the NCTS "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" can be reserved by calling 888-652-RACE (7223) and online through the tickets pages of this Web site. Tickets also are available through any Meijer store and the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk, Suite 100 in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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