Kyle Busch enters this week’s Dollar General 200 fueled by AmeriGas NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) event with a solid performance record at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR). Busch’s statistics show seven wins and six poles across all three of NASCAR’s premiere series.
At PIR in the Nationwide Series, Busch is the track’s youngest pole winner in 2004, at the age of 19 years, six months and four days and holds the record for all-time performer in pole wins, with four. The Las Vegas, Nev. native also maintains the track’s Nationwide Series qualifying record set in 2011 at
134.298 mph. The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran is tied with fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor Carl Edwards for the track’s all-time wins, four in 14 race starts.
Also in Busch’s arsenal this year is winning crew chief Adam Stevens, who was standing in victory lane at PIR last November with Joey Logano for the track’s most recent Nationwide Series event. Expectations are high that both driver and crew chief records will be improved this year, this time doing it together.
Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
What will a track like Phoenix tell you about the No. 54 team and the progress they are making for the season?
“It’s a good gauge, a good race, but it’s also too soon. It will be too early to tell us where we stand on the whole. Next we’ll go to Vegas (Nev.) for the mile-and-a-half track, back to Bristol for a short track and then back to California for a two-mile race. There are still races to win and someone has to take home a trophy, but from California on is where your momentum is going to take place.”
How do you like the track since the repave?
“It’s a fun race track, but also treacherous. The old track was fun, you could slide around and manhandle it like Atlanta. The new track has more grip at the start, but once that goes away then you have little area to maneuver. I think there will be growing pains on this surface the next couple of seasons until the asphalt has aged a bit more.”
Adam Stevens, Crew Chief of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
What are your thoughts now having run your first race weekend with Kyle Busch as your driver?
“Kyle and I had a decent first weekend together. We had a fast car and led a lot of laps. We didn’t get the finish we were looking for but from a big picture standpoint it was a valuable weekend because we learned a little bit about each other. Drivers and crew chiefs succeed or fail in this business based on how effectively they can communicate. Daytona was not a test in that regard being a restrictor plate race with limited practice time, but it was a good first step. Phoenix will test us though.”
Having won this event last fall, what are your keys to success here in Phoenix?
“Phoenix is a unique place. Since the repave it has been all about track position. The surface is unforgiving in that there is a large discrepancy in grip between the area of the track that is rubbered up and the area of the track that is not. If you get out of the rubbered up groove you will instantly loose grip. Each race this has become a little better. Even as each race weekend goes, the groove slowly gets wider. You have to be careful early in practice not to push too hard and make a mistake.”