Kyle Busch has already put NASCAR sweep behind him

August 22, 2010|By Sports Xchange

BRISTOL, Tenn. — You'd think the exhilaration of becoming the first driver to sweep all three NASCAR national series races at the same track on the same weekend would last a few days, weeks or even months.

But that's not Kyle Busch.

No, the perfectionist in Busch tells him he is only as good as his next race. So even if he finishes second when he races an off-road truck later this week, the perfection of Bristol will be a far-off memory.

"We just won. It's awesome. It's great for the team," Busch said after winning the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday at Bristol. "You know, we've got an off day tomorrow. We can celebrate, do whatever we want to do.

"But yeah, I mean, it's an off-road race for me on Wednesday. (I'm) going to do that for the first time, and it's going to be fun, so that will be a treat. And then next week (I'm) running the truck race at Chicago. If I don't win there, yeah, I'm going to be upset. I'm there to win and I feel like I should be able to win."

While many drivers are pleased with top-10 or top-five finishes -- the oft-quoted "good points day" -- Busch frowns at anything but trips to Victory Lane. In an era when many fans decry the seeming ignorance of winning, it's all or nothing for Busch.

The phrase "second is the first loser" is almost a mantra for him.

"If I came out of here every week happy for losing, I'm not here for the right reasons," Busch said. "That's when I need to go away. I'm here to try to win, and if I don't win, I might not entirely be happy unless we struggled through a day and then all of a sudden, boom, we ran second or third, and then it's like, yeah, we got a good day out of here.

"That's kind of just the way I am. That's kind of what you guys have seen for the years that I've been here and probably the years to come."

That kind of drive led to Busch's pursuit of wins in any NASCAR series. He even formed his own Camping World Truck Series team to keep trying to win in that series and had to be talked out of a full-time Nationwide Series schedule this season by his Joe Gibbs Racing team.

The Sprint Cup Series is the ultimate goal, but Busch won't be denied racing as often as he can. At Bristol last week, he showed he can still focus on Cup while winning at other levels. He won Wednesday's truck race, Friday's Nationwide race and then Saturday's Cup race at the 0.533-mile short track.

"It's pretty remarkable what he's been able to do this weekend, especially with owning his own truck team," Cup driver Jamie McMurray said. "I know that's been fairly stressful for him. And obviously the Nationwide (Series) -- it's amazing how many races they can win in that car.

"But then to be able to come out (Saturday) and win again, he obviously has a really good feel for this place, and he just had a really good weekend. He's been close to doing that before, so that's really impressive what Kyle has been able to do."

The weekend sweep wasn't without its controversial moments. Busch and Brad Keselowski collided late in the Nationwide race, prompting Busch to intentionally spin Keselowski -- and prompting Keselowski to call Busch an "ass" during driver introductions Saturday.

Asked about Keselowski's comment, Busch said, "Who?"

Brad Keselowski.

"Yeah, I don't know who you're talking about," Busch said.

He drives the No. 12 car.

"I saw it," Busch said, "but I passed it."

Busch passed a lot of cars Saturday after starting 19th, but one of his more impressive moves came as he headed to pit road with 100 laps remaining. McMurray had passed Busch after a long green-flag run, but as McMurray headed to pit lane for his final stop, Busch whipped around him.

"We came in, and I was very self-conscious not to get caught speeding entering pit road," McMurray said. "A pass-through (penalty) here would just end your night. So I was a little bit cautious coming in, and Kyle was able to get beside me. And then I think he just had a half-second or a second quicker pit stop and was able to beat me out."

Busch's move to pit road was his own; crew chief Dave Rogers wanted him to come in two laps later. But when Busch saw McMurray come off the track, he figured he couldn't allow McMurray to gain time on faster, newer tires.

"If McMurray came in and got off pit road, he'd be able to run a second faster lap time than I would have, which is an awful lot of distance," Busch said. "I knew I needed to come in with him. But I was able to out-brake him and get to his outside and get to pit road, get slowed down, and we had a really good pit stop.

"And then exiting, I exited really hard and really fast, too, where I think when I came out I was half a straightaway-plus on him."

Busch still had to get by David Reutimann, who had pitted earlier and used new tires to get the lead, but he accomplished that on lap 429. Seventy-one laps later, Busch had his sweep.

"Kyle is a special driver and in my opinion the most talented driver on the circuit," Rogers said. "I told him before the race, there's a lot of fans out there booing him and some wise guys saying some things that were somewhat unprofessional, but it's an absolute honor to work with Kyle Busch. I couldn't be happier to do so."

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