HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 3, 2010) It's mind-boggling when the words are read aloud. Kyle Busch is attempting to win his sixth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
That number, again, is six, as in a half-dozen, the square root of 36, or the number of years in a United States Senate term.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/Conns Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), led four times for a race-high 153 laps this past April to win his fifth consecutive Nationwide Series event at Texas and join NASCAR legends Jack Ingram and Dale Earnhardt in the record books as drivers who have won five straight races at one track.
Ingram, the 1982 and 1985 Nationwide Series champion, won at South Boston Speedway in July 1985 and then won four more races at the .357-mile oval in southern Virginia in April, May, June and July of 1986. Earnhardt won the February Nationwide Series event at Daytona International Speedway every year from 1990 to 1994.
Busch will look to break away from Ingram and Earnhardt and hold the consecutive wins record all by himself when he competes in Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas. And, if the past is any indication, Busch will most likely find his way to the front of the field very quickly.
The Las Vegas native has dominated in all five victories at Texas, having led a combined 810 of 1,000 laps available to him, meaning he has been at the point for an astounding 81 percent of the Nationwide Series circuits conducted at Texas since 2008.
That translates to 1,215 miles of leading the pack a distance that would allow Busch to start a drive from Texarkana, Texas, head west on Interstate 30 through Dallas, and take Interstate 35 south through Waco and the state capital of Austin to the north side of San Antonio. From there, Busch could take Interstate 10 west all the way to El Paso and continue north on Interstate 25 to the southern outskirts of Albuquerque, N.M.
While Busch is not running the full Nationwide Series schedule, JGR's No. 18 Toyota is competing for the owners title. Thanks in part to Busch's series-record 12 wins this season, the No. 18 Toyota has a 71-point lead over the No. 22 car of Penske Racing, which is driven full-time by Brad Keselowski. JGR has won the past two Nationwide Series owners championships.
This week, Busch will have extra support as Conns, a Beaumont, Texas-based appliance and electronics retailer, will be featured on the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota. Conns was also present on Busch's car when he won at Texas in April.
Kyle Busch, Driver, No. 18 Z-Line Designs / Conns NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
Do you feel as though you can win your sixth consecutive Nationwide race at Texas?
"I feel like, going to Texas with the Nationwide car, its definitely the feeling that we can get it done. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys (Jack Ingram and Dale Earnhardt), and guys like Sam Ard, is a big deal. I always enjoy breaking records. I don't go after them, but they just seem to fall in place for me. I would like to win there in the Truck Series race, too - we've got Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller (owner, Interstate Batteries) pumped up about being on my truck, and iamsecond.com being on there with us, as well, for the Truck race. Then, the Nationwide race, going for six in a row, its going to be awfully exciting. I can't think of a better place than Texas, with Eddie Gossage (president, Texas Motor Speedway) and all those guys out there who do such a great job with that facility. To get six in a row at the place would be cool. Of course, maybe we can get to where we should have been last year in the fall race there and win the triple again. Felt like we had a really good car in the Cup race, too, so we had a shot there."
In addition to competing in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday, you're also competing in the Truck Series event on Friday and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. Talk about that.
"I'm used to doing all three, so it isnt that big of a deal jumping from different cars. I think racing on Friday and Saturday helps me in a lot of ways. The momentum of winning a Truck or Nationwide race certainly doesn't hurt when it comes to the Cup race. Also, even bigger than that is that I feel like I learn so much from those races that I can apply to Sunday. If Im running all three, by the time Sunday rolls around I've already been on pit road almost a dozen times and I also have learned what lines are working and also how the track reacts to changes and we can apply those to the Cup car. I usually talk to Dave (Rogers, Sprint Cup crew chief) after a Nationwide or Truck race and tell him what I felt during the day. Jason (Ratcliff, Nationwide crew chief) also will talk to Dave and tell him what he thinks, as well. I feel like it makes me a better driver but, also, it helps my team with the information I can gather from the two races I've already run."
Why are you and the No. 18 Nationwide car so unbeatable at Texas?
"I dont know. Its a team effort. It's Jason (Ratcliff) and all of those guys all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing, the chassis guys, the body guys, the guys in the engine shop and everybody makes this possible. Its just good race cars and good people and I'm expecting to try and keep that going at Texas this week."
Jason Ratcliff, Crew Chief, No. 18 Z-Line Designs / Conns NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry:
Can you, Busch and the Z-Line Designs team make it six consecutive wins at Texas?
"Yes, if we dont do anything stupid (laughs). I think so. If you asked me last year at this time if we could have made it four in a row, I would have told you it would have been tough. I dont know what it is. I think most of it is his driving style. The cars are good, but his driving style - he's got that place figured out. And, we've had some good setups there. Every time we go there, the competition keeps getting closer to us and closer to us so, eventually, were going to get beat. I just hope it isn't this week."
When you were coming up through the ranks, did you ever in your wildest dreams think you would have a chance to go for six consecutive wins at a track in one of NASCAR's top three divisions?
"No, I would have never thought I'd have the opportunity. I also never thought I'd have the opportunity to win 10 or more races in a season. That's just crazy. Everyone says set your goals high. Well, I figured saying. 'Let's win four or five races a year,' was setting your goals high. It's crazy. Sometimes, we underestimate ourselves a little bit. Gods blessed us so much that nothing surprises me anymore. I'm hoping next year at this time they're asking us if we can win eight straight at Texas. I think anything is possible, now."
How important are the final three races to capturing the owners championship?
"They're important. We just need to focus on having a good run at Texas. We need to take it one step at a time. If we put three good races together, it's ours. Itd be a huge accomplishment. Knowing we had multiple drivers in the car, that'd be a big deal, especially knowing how good that 22 car (Brad Keselowski) has been. We need to go out there and do our deal every week and make sure we dont get caught up in somebody elses mess and make sure we dont have mistakes on pit road. We just need to do the best we can with what we can control."