After having a strong run in the team's first road-course entry, finishing eighth at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. last week, Kurt Busch now turns his attention to an intermediate track where he will make his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start. In 2000, Busch first attempted Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, when an on-track incident kept him from completing the event. Last year, in the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, he started third, led 41 laps and finished ninth to Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team owner and Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, who led the most laps (125) and took the win for NASCAR's premiere division at the 1.5 mile tri-oval. Kyle Busch has also recorded one NNS win, in 2004, at the track located on the "Kentucky Bourbon Trail."
The KBM chassis for this week's Nationwide Series event raced twice already this season, first at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and again at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, both 1.5-mile tri-ovals like this week's Kentucky Speedway. The Texas event didn't showcase the car's ability though, as the team suffered engine issues and completed the race 30th. Charlotte however proved the strength of chassis #008 as Kyle Busch achieved a third-place finish with it, solidifying the team's growth on intermediate-size race tracks.
Mike Beam brings valuable experience to the table for the No. 54 team, having been the crew chief for Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races at Kentucky. Beam's drivers accomplished two top-five and two top-10 finishes, including 18 laps led over five consecutive Truck Series events from 2005 to 2009. More recently, the veteran mechanic recorded a second-place starting position, one lap led and a top-10 finish with his previous team, in the 2011 "Bluegrass State" Nationwide Series event.
Beam and Busch both are eager to add to their resumes, with knowledge the KBM program is on the verge of another victory, this time proving their competitiveness on the medium-sized tracks of NASCAR.
Kurt Busch, Driver of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
How do you feel going into another intermediate track with the No. 54 team in Kentucky?
"Well, this week will be another track that I have not run on in the Nationwide Series. Of all the tracks I've gone to for the first time this year, this one I feel, has the largest gap or learning curve for me compared to the other NNS competitors - since Nationwide has been racing there longer.
I had my first Kentucky start last year in the Cup car and we finished pretty strong. I can't wait to see what the KBM chassis has for me. Kyle ran third with it in Charlotte, so I know the KBM intermediate-track program is gaining momentum."
Mike Beam, Crew Chief of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
How difficult is racing at Kentucky Speedway?
"Hopefully we can improve on our intermediate track program this week at Kentucky. It is definitely a challenging race track and Kurt has not raced a Nationwide Series car there. We are getting our consistency now, but as we all know, it is about winning. We have the driver to do that, we just have to give him the car to get it done."
Kurt Busch's No. 54 Monster Energy Camry:
Chassis KBM-008: KBM will unload car #008, first raced at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth where the team had engine issues and finished 30th. The intermediate-track chassis was then run at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway where Kyle Busch registered a third-place finish. The backup machine is Chassis KBM-007, which has not been used to date.