Kyle Busch is marking a milestone on Sunday as the driver who is now in his 14th season of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes his 500th career start.
Busch will drive the No. 18 Snickers Creamy Toyota at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
In his career Busch has 51 wins in the MENCS. If Busch is able to go to victory lane on Sunday he would join Richard Petty, who did it in 1970, and Matt Kenseth, who did it in 2013 in accomplishing the feat.
“I think it means that I’m old, (laughing)” Busch said of the feat. “But seriously, just makes you reflect on all the great things we’ve been able to accomplish over the years and all the people that have helped me get to where I am and win all the races we’ve been able to win. You just think of all the guys at JGR and Toyota and all the guys on my teams that have helped me accomplish everything that I have in my career. Also, Atlanta is a place that has a lot of great memories since we were able to bring home the first win ever for Toyota and for SNICKERS and everyone at Mars back in 2008, that was very special. Really appreciate everyone at Mars and SNICKERS for the 500th start helmet they surprised me with last weekend at Daytona that I’ll wear this weekend. It’s really cool and I’m hoping it brings us some good luck and we can bring home our first win of the season with our SNICKERS Creamy Camry.”
What do you expect as you head to Atlanta with some changes to the racing package starting this week?
“We’re just racecar drivers. We just drive what we’re given to drive and what the rules are. Our team’s got to go to work and build around that – what they know about how to make speed in our cars in order to go out there and beat the rest of the competition. That’s how I look at it. It’s not that it’s fallen on deaf ears. The problem is still creating something that’s viable for the fans to see – excitement. When you have a guy who’s leading the race and is out front by six seconds, it’s not exciting. I get it and I understand where we’re going and what we’re doing. It’s just frustrating as a driver to know that’s what we’re doing and how we anticipate all the races kind of playing out at the 1.5-mile and above racetracks, so I don’t exactly know what to expect starting this weekend.”
Are your expectations high going to Atlanta since JGR has won several races there over the years?
“Atlanta is one of those places where anything can happen and we’ll definitely have to be on our toes there this weekend with our first race at a 1.5-mile oval this season. You have to have good grip there, you have to have good (tire) fall-off – you have to be fast to start a run, yet you don’t want to fall off more than anybody else. So you have to take care of your stuff and bide your time a little bit. That lends itself to options by the driver to either push hard early (in the run) or save a little and be there late.”
What are your memories of racing at Atlanta?
“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I won for the first time in an Xfinity race there, recently, so that was very cool. I finished second three or four times, so it had been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I’ve either been really good or really bad, it seems. There have been times where I’ve been really good throughout the event. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to keep the grip in my car for the long haul, as long as you need to throughout a run.”
What did you think of the speed at Atlanta the first time you raced there?
“My first time there was 2003 in an Xfinity Series car and it was definitely fast. It’s all relative. You run the same speed around everybody and it really doesn’t feel that fast, so it feels like you do anywhere else, whether you’re at Las Vegas or Chicago or Kansas or any of those places.”