The last time Kyle Busch visited Watkins Glen International he finished the weekend celebrating his second NASCAR Sprint Cup series win at the 2.45-mile road course. Most of the race was led by road course ace Marcos Ambrose but pit strategy put Busch in the lead late in the going. He would go on to lead 29 laps and survive three late race restarts including a restart caused by an Ambrose crash for his second win at the Glen his first coming in 2008.
Busch returned to the Glen Friday as the NASCAR Sprint Cup series prepared for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. Busch met with the media and said he has been looking forward to coming back here.
“This is always a place that we enjoy coming to,” Busch said. “It’s a good place for me here the last few years and so I’m looking forward to this weekend both on the Nationwide side and the Sprint Cup side. Practice was a little shaky this morning I guess for the 54 car (NNS), but all in all we have decent speed. Definitely not as good of speed as we want compared to those cars that are fast and we’ll just have to continue to work on that.”
Busch said that unlike the oval tracks the restarts at the Glen can get crazy.
“Just because it is a road course and as you’re running around there when you do get single filed out you’re essentially only cleaning off one groove,” Busch said. “As you get ready to come to the green, just try to keep your tires clean enough in order to have a good start and make your car turn through turn one and turn two and try to get singled out by three, four down through the bus stop if you need to make passes you make passes. They’re always interesting. “
He added that one of the keys to getting around the Glen are the braking zones.
“When you’re upfront you’ve just got to try to hit your marks, again try to clean your tires off and make sure you can charge the corners and get away from the rest of the guys around you,” Busch said. “Braking zones in general — that’s obviously the areas that you make passes if the guy in front of you is not making mistakes. You can pass anywhere on this race track essentially if a guy makes a mistake but if they’re not it’s essentially a braking zone to just out brake that guy in front of you. Making sure that you keep your brakes on your car and keep them cool enough that you can go after people in particular corners and out-brake them.”
Busch also has a win at the other road course the NASCAR Sprint Cup series races on; that being in Sonoma, California. However, that win came in 2008 and since then Busch has struggled there finishing 25th in June and 35th last year.
“Every single time I’ve been at Sonoma, I’ve been wrecked,” Busch said. “That’s why the results are so bad there. I think it’s been eight, nine races in a row or something at Sonoma where I have been spun out and here I tend to be fast enough to be out front to not have people around me and don’t get spun out. Now that I say that I’m sure that will change. Knock on wood and go into Sunday I guess.”
Busch is currently 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings coming to the Glen. With one win so far this season, Busch is in great shape to make this year’s final 10 race Chase for the championship, he’s not locked in though but with a win or a strong run could be when the checkered flag falls Sunday.
“You definitely want to be locked in,” Busch said. “I feel like we’re sure enough to make the Chase but like I said, I think that just us, we want to be able to win. I felt like we had a chance last week to get ourselves locked in, but that obviously was cut short and so here we are this week just doing what we typically try to do. You want to be further up in the point standings and for me being 10th it’s very frustrating to be here because I know that’s not our capabilities, but to be honest with you, you look on the flip side of the coin and it really doesn’t matter where you are. It just matters where you end up and how well you do in the final 10.”
As for Sunday, Busch counts himself among the favorites and said he isn’t planning on chasing anyone come Sunday.
“I don’t think I’m chasing a guy like Marcos (Ambrose) at all,” Busch said. “I think that when you come into this race though you look at the favorites and I think there’s three favorites because they’ve been the top three guys here the last four years, three years, whatever it’s been. It’s myself, the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 9 (Marcos Ambrose). I think you’re going to see those three cars be fast. I think you can always mix in a fourth and a fifth guy depending on who those are. Some days they’re different than others. This year obviously the 24 (Jeff Gordon) has been real stout — maybe he can carry that on into this week. I don’t necessarily think that anyone is chasing anyone. I think it’s just going to be us three trying to figure out who is going to win it.”
Busch was 10th in Friday’s first Sprint Cup practice and 5th in the final practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series.