Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing had their first taste of victory together during the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Phoenix this past week. Now Busch is heading home to Las Vegas, where he will drive the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NNS race.
Busch has had success on his hometown track as he holds the record for the number of fastest laps (127) at LVMS in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He also ranks second in laps led (228) over the last eight years the Nationwide Series has raced at the 1.5-mile facility.
But Busch says that the Sam’s Town 300 race in 2012 proved to be a difficult one. After starting the race from a 20th-place qualifying position, he worked his way through the field only to end up in an on-track accident that relegated his previous Kyle Busch Motorsports team to a 33rd-place finish.
Was the veteran driver being a bit too eager for a win in front of the hometown crowd? The numbers show that while Busch has some strengths on the Las Vegas track in a Nationwide car, the wins have been elusive. In nine NNS starts, Busch has not won at LVMS and this week, he is looking to do much better than last year.
“As long as I don’t wreck, I’ll be okay,” Busch said. “Because I have wrecked there every year. I don’t need to wreck; I just have to make it to the checkered flag. One year I had a flat tire, another year I was making a bold move to the finish line and wrecked…I don’t need to show my rookie stripes again, for the third time in a row this year.”
Busch admits that the race prep is the same as it would be for going into any event, but being able to race in front of family and friends is a bonus.
“It’s like any other race weekend in terms of preparation with the team. Cool thing here is that I know the city and I still have friends in the area, so it’s nice to give them the opportunity to come out and see us race,” he said.
Adam Stevens, Crew Chief, says that coming off a NNS win last week will help build momentum, but that every race has its challenges.
“JGR has had fast cars here but has never been able to win on the Nationwide Series side,” Stevens said. “This track is unique in that it is quite bumpy and extremely fast. Often we hear drivers complain about ‘loose exit.’ With high speeds, bumps and a tendency to get loose on exit, Vegas can turn a good day into a bad day very quickly. There is added pressure here being Kyle’s hometown. We sure would like to taste victory again, but this week’s track will challenge us.”