Brian Ickler Back in The Seat of the No. 18 Truck
Beginning with Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kentucky 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Brian Ickler will be back in the saddle of Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) No. 18 Toyota Tundra for the next two races,. As the 2011 Truck Series season heads down the final six-race stretch, the 26-year-old driver is faced with the task of trying to help the defending Truck Series owners' champions erase a 33-point deficit in this year's standings.
Ickler has collected five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 20 career Truck Series starts. Saturday will be the San Diego native's third start for KBM in 2011. He battled his way back from an early spin to register a hard-fought fourth-place finish in the WinStar World Casino 400k at Texas Motor Speedway in June and posted a 14th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 200 at Iowa Speedway in July.
This weekend will be Ickler's fourth trip to Kentucky Speedway. His most recent result was a 14th-place finish in the 2010 Meijer 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. In 2009, Ickler led a lap and was running in the top five of the Built Ford Tough 225 before a lap-133 accident relegated him to a 21st-place finish. His resume also includes a fourth-place finish in the 2009 ARCA Racing Series Drive Smart Buckle-Up 150.
KBM is hoping that Ickler can carry the momentum of owner-driver Kyle Busch's dominant performance in last weekend's F.W. Webb 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway into this weekend's race. Busch led 165 of the 175-lap race en route to the team's series-leading seventh win of 2011. The team earned maximum owners' points and cut seven points off Kevin Harvick Inc's lead in the championship chase.
Not only is KBM carrying the momentum from last week's win, the team enters Saturday's race in the Blue Grass state coming off a win in its most recent trip to the 1.5-mile Tri-oval. Busch started from the rear of the field in July's UNOH 225 but was able to work his way to the front and bring home the victory.
Brian Ickler, Driver of the No. 18 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra:
What is the most difficult part of racing a limited schedule?
"The most difficult part is just getting a feel for driving again. As far as working with the team, I'm at the shop almost every day. Once I get behind the wheel, I already have a great relationship with Eric and all the guys that work on this truck. I believe in them and they believe in me. I'm confident that every time I get behind the wheel of the No. 18 Tundra that we are going to have a strong run."
Is Kentucky Speedway a typical mile-and-a-half track?
"Kentucky isn't your typical mile-and-a-half track. It is really flat and really rough. I haven't raced there this season, but Kyle (Busch) says that it is rougher than it was last year. The key to getting around the place is being able to drive across the bumps on the bottom of Turns 1 and 2 without upsetting your truck."
Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra:
Will the track conditions at Kentucky be different than they were for the July race?
"Yes. It was really warm when we were there in July and looking at the forecast for this weekend, the temperature looks like it will be in the mid-60's. The race track should have a lot more grip -- which after watching the trucks slip around in the first race, is probably a good thing. I expect that with the added grip, the track will be a lot faster."
Does Brian have a similar driving style to Kyle?
"Brian and Kyle have very similar driving styles. You can definitely tell Kyle has taken Brian under his wing the last few years and shared a lot of information. They both give a lot of the same feedback and on the track do a lot of the same things. One thing we have to watch for when Brian is driving is that he has a tendency to get the truck a little too free in practice. We'll keep our eyes on that and make sure that our Tundra is a little bit on the snug side for the start of the race."