Two years ago this weekend, the track known as the “Magic Mile” certainly lived up to its billing for Kyle Busch and his Interstate Batteries team made quite the "charge" towards an important win.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), used hard work and a little bit of luck in July 2015 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon to bring home what would be the second of three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins in a row during a summer hot streak that would ultimately springboard him to the 2015 Cup Series championship.
After winning the previous week at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire Interstate Batteries team were shining examples of Interstate’s slogan of “Outrageously Dependable” at New Hampshire. It looked like their race was ruined by an unscheduled pit stop on lap 244 that dropped them to 20th after running in the top-three all race long. But just as quickly as misfortune struck, good luck followed. Busch hustled to get by leaders Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick and, just as he did that, the caution flag flew. While the rest of the leaders needed to pit for fuel, Busch had already made his final trip to pit road. He was able to hold the lead for the final stretch of the race and brought home a second consecutive victory that he would add to the following week by winning the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he also won in 2016.
The 2015 New Hampshire victory was Busch’s second Cup Series win at the 1.058-mile oval, the first coming in just his third start there in July 2006 and in dominating fashion as he led 107 laps. After that 2006 win, the Las Vegas native left with plenty of confidence that he could get multiple wins at the “Magic Mile” as his career progressed. As it turned out, he was winless there over the 17 races, which included a number of near-misses.
The driver of the Interstate Batteries Toyota posted five top-five finishes in those 17 starts between New Hampshire wins, including three runner-up finishes in a row in 2013 and 2014. In all, Busch has nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 24 starts at the track. Outside the Cup Series ranks, Busch has five wins, three poles and eight top-five results in 11 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Loudon to go with three wins, one pole and six top-10s in eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races there.
With a strong record of seven top-fives and 10 top-10s thus far in 2017, the Interstate Batteries driver has come agonizingly close to bringing home his first Cup win of the season. In fact, Busch has led 858 laps this season, second most to Martin Truex Jr., and sits a solid third in the point standings as he aims for that first win of the season which would virtually lock him into a playoff spot.
So, as NASCAR’s top series heads to the Northeast for Sunday’s Overton’s 301, Busch will look to rekindle the magic he last enjoyed during this time of year there in 2015. There will be plenty of Interstate Batteries distributors and dealers across New England cheering him on as Interstate Batteries celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2017.