OXFORD — Kyle Busch ran a few laps around Oxford Plains Speedway, then he’d have his crew tinker with the new car, built by Dale Shaw for Busch to race in the TD Bank 250 on July 24. Then it would be back to the track for some more laps, followed by more work on the car.
Laps, work, repeat. All afternoon. Anyone who saw Busch work to make the car perfect had no doubt he’s not coming to just race the TD Bank 250. NASCAR’s current Sprint Cup points leader intends to win the thing.
“When we unloaded, we were about eight-tenths (of a second) slower than we are now, so we’ve picked up some time. But there’s always those next couple steps you work really hard at. And you might not get there sometimes,” Busch said during a break from his afternoon of testing. “You try to win any race you possibly can, at least that’s my mentality.”
This will be Busch’s third time racing the TD Bank 250, and first in five years. In 2005, Busch led for 61 laps, but finished sixth. In 2006, he was in contention for the win until motor problems ended his night.
“Maybe third time’s the charm. We’ll see how that plays out. It’s a tough race. It’s anybody’s race,” Busch said. “It’s a brand new racecar… We’re just trying to work the bugs out of it, see if there’s anything we need to work on so we don’t have to do that with our practice time when we come up for the weekend.”
Busch has three wins on the Sprint Cup series this season, and Saturday’s win in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway pushed Busch into first place in the Sprint Cup standings. It was the 99th NASCAR national win, third-most all time, behind Richard Petty (200 wins) and David Pearson (106).
“We feel pretty good about it. I’m excited about the rest of the year. We’ve won three so far, leading the points. We feel like a pretty good lock for the Chase,” Busch said.
Whether it’s Sprint Cup, Oxford Plains Speedway, or a dirt road in the middle on nowhere, Busch just loves racing, and his hectic schedule is proof. Following Saturday’s win in Kentucky, Busch raced at Slinger Speedway in Wisconsin, winning a Late Model race. On Wednesday, he was racing at Delaware Speedway in Ontario, Canada, where his night ended early when a crash broke his front suspension.
On Saturday, Busch will compete in the Nationwide race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., where he’ll also run in the Sprint Cup race Sunday.
“If you saw my schedule the last two weeks, you’d be blown away. It’s crazy,” Busch said. “It’s fun, too. Might as well do it while I’m young (Busch is 26). I’ve got the great opportunity to do it. We’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”
Small tracks like Oxford Plains Speedway remind Busch, who has raced at the Sprint Cup level since 2004, of his roots.
“It’s more fun, kind of the way I grew up racing, the local short track stuff. A little beating, a little banging, you’re going to have that. I’ve been able to do that a few times this year in Late Models around the country, and I’m looking forward to trying to do it here at Oxford Plains Speedway,” Busch said.
As well as racing in the TD Bank 250, Busch plans on competing in the PASS race at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday, July 23.
“(I’m) coming up anyway. Might as well come up the night before and get a little better experience. I look forward to getting up here and racing more laps,” Busch said.
Sprint Cup drivers have become a regular part of the TD Bank 250 in recent years. Along with Busch, others to compete at Oxford include Brad Keselowski , Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, JJ Yeley, Ricky Craven, Terry Labonte, Kevin Harvick and Kenny Wallace.
“To me, it’s just great to come out and see the race fans at different areas, to be able to put on a good show for them,” Busch said.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242