Kyle Busch Up for the Challenge

This weekend’s Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway road course just so happens to be the sixth and final road course race of the season for the NASCAR Cup Series.


Not long ago, there were just two road-course stops in NASCAR’s top series, but the challenge of road-course racing swelled from a couple of weekends where the series competitors honed their skills of turning left and right to a much more significant portion of the 36-race, points paying schedule.


Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry TRD for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has learned that the road-course-racing discipline is an even more important part of success over the course of the season, and he’s certainly up for the challenge this weekend on what is considered the trickiest road-course addition to the schedule in recent years. After a challenging first three seasons on the Charlotte Roval, Busch broke through a year ago this weekend to lead 22 laps and score his first top-five finish there in his fourth start on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course.


Busch is hoping he can up the ante this weekend from last year’s strong finish and equal the feat he accomplished in the May 2018 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, albeit on the oval, when he brought home his first career points-paying win at the track in one of the crown jewels of NASCAR’s top series.


While this weekend’s Charlotte Roval event always presents a somewhat unknown element, Busch has established himself as one of the top road-course racers in the Cup Series. If the two-time Cup Series champion was to grab another checkered flag in Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400, he could join some elite company as a road-racing ace in NASCAR’s top series.


In terms of overall road-course proficiency, Busch’s four Cup Series road-course victories ties him with David Pearson, Tim Richmond, and Martin Truex Jr., on the all-time road-course wins list. That’s some pretty good company, already. A fifth road-course win would tie him with Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Dan Gurney. The top three in all-time road-course wins in the Cup Series shows Chase Elliott in third place with seven wins, Tony Stewart second with eight, and Jeff Gordon atop the leaderboard with nine wins.


So as Busch heads to the Charlotte Roval this weekend, he will hope to be up to the challenge of another trip to the tricky Roval circuit while chasing its unique layout to his extensive winning resume, which includes a majority of the tracks on the Cup Series schedule.  

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 


What is the most difficult part of the Roval to figure out?

“I think the hardest part is just trying to understand the different dynamics between the slow sections in the infield portion of the track versus the high-speed and high-banked portion of the oval track. You are slipping in every corner, there’s not a corner where you are necessarily feeling really good about it. It’s going to be a technical challenge all the way around yet again this year.”


How do you look at this weekend as far as the race being a crapshoot?


“It’s just a different challenge. It’s alright. There are a whole lot of differences there than a typical road course. There have been spots on the track where I could make up time and a lot of other spots where I would lose time, and now those spots where I could gain time are gone. We’ve worked on getting better there and hope we can show that this weekend.”


Is road-course racing something that comes naturally to you, or is it something you had to work on?


“It’s definitely something you have to work on. With rule changes and tire changes, it’s something you work on every year. There’s always change that you have to work on to be competitive. When I was a kid back in Las Vegas in Legends cars, that’s where I was able to learn about shifting and turning left and turning right. I had the natural instincts for it and won a couple of championships in the winter series we had out there. We actually went out to Sonoma back then and ran the national championship races two years in a row and finished third both times, so I had a little bit of experience on road courses as I came up through the ranks. Certainly the game has changed as far as road-course racing in recent years with several more than we used to have, so you have to adapt and adjust. We’ve run well at the majority of the road courses so far this year and I’m hoping we can keep it going this weekend in our M&M’S Camry.”


What is it that you like about racing on the road courses?


“Just enjoy road racing. You used to only have two a year and you kind of treated them like an off weekend – come in, have fun and try to run hard and what not. Now, there’s four, five, six of them or whatever it is so there’s a bit more work involved, but I still feel as though it’s fun. I’ve always been fast most times on the natural road courses. It’s nice when you have a shot to come up to a track that you know you can get up into the top-three or four and go shoot for a race win.”