Tag:Kyle Busch
Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 5:02 pm

2012 Daytona 500 predictions

Daytona 500 Winner

Pete Pistone's pick

Kyle Busch -- I’ve been coming to Daytona since I was a kid and watching NASCAR racing pretty much my entire life. Never have I seen a display like the one Kyle Busch put on in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saving his car three different times when it was completely sideways and somehow coming back from that shower of sparks to win the race. Say what you want about his personality or his behavior but it’s impossible to argue that Busch is one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever seen. He is very determined to put the controversy of last year behind and focus on winning races and the Sprint Cup championship in 2012. That quest begins this weekend and Busch will get the year off on the highest of notes with a win in “The Great American Race.”

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Carl Edwards -- I could really name just about any driver from the Roush Fenway camp as they've been very impressive during Speedweeks. Its drivers have been at or near the top of the speed charts during most practices, Edwards and his teammate Greg Biffle were top 2 in qualifying and third teammate Kenseth won Gatorade Duel 2, an event Biffle led for a race-high 40 laps. But while championships may elude Edwards, the Daytona 500 might just land in his lap. If Edwards can pull it off, he'd be the 18th pole-sitter to win the 500 and the first since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Dark Horse

Pete Pistone's pick

Marcos Ambrose -- The entire Ford contingent has been fast at Daytona since it rolled off the haulers at the start of Speedweeks. Ambrose is among those who have stayed near the top of speed chart in practice sessions and the Richard Petty Motorsports driver also factored into both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel outcomes. The popular Australian feels at home in NASCAR after finding his way the last few seasons and many believe he’ll win his first oval track race in 2012 in addition to being a powerhouse on the road courses. That victory could come on Sunday with Ambrose giving his fans both in the U.S. as well as “down under” something to celebrate.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Trevor Bayne -- The defending Daytona 500 champion as a darkhorse? I may be stretching this a bit, but I haven't heard anybody giving him much of a chance to repeat. He's been decent during Speedweeks, but remains somewhat of an afterthought behind the Cup regulars. He's flying under the radar, but has the car to pull of the win again. At the very least, you can say he has experience winning NASCAR's biggest race. How wild would it be if Bayne were to make it 2 for 2 in the Daytona 500?

Surprise Top 10

Pete Pistone's pick

Dave Blaney -- The former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion had a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500 thanks to his finish inside the Top 35 last year. But after team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to transfer those points to Danica Patrick, Blaney had to race his way into the 500 in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel. Last season the underdog turned a lot of heads with stellar restrictor plate track performances at both Daytona and Talladega so Blaney has skills in the draft. He may also have a little extra motivation as well on Sunday after the off-season points maneuvering and despite being a David against the Goliaths of the series; a finish inside the first ten is not out of the question.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Aric Almirola -- It's easy to forget that Almirola is the newest driver of the No. 43 car, replacing A.J. Allmendinger, who jumped to Penske Racing to fill the No. 22 seat vacated by Kurt Busch. He definitely has speed as he topped the fourth practice session and was second in the fifth session. Another driver with Ford power under the hood, don't be surprised to see him running near the front on Sunday.

Quick picks

  Pistone De Los Santos
Better Busch brother finish Kyle Kurt
Will Danica finish on lead lap No No
Over/Under Caution Flags (8) Under Under
Over/Under Caution Laps (25) Over Over
Over/Under Leaders (20) Over Under
Over/Under Lead Changes (50) Under Over

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:50 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 2:34 pm

Kyle Busch tops second Friday practice

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time since Speedweeks began last week a Ford driver did not top Daytona 500 practice.

Kyle Busch put his Toyota on top of the speed chart in Friday's second session with a lap of 199.885 mph. Last Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout winner was the best of the 23 drivers who took part in the session with a number of teams again electing to sit out.

Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano was second fastest with a lap of 199.885 mph, an identical mark to the No. 18 M&M's Camry as teh duo hooked up in a tandem draft.

Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.

Final Daytona 500 practice is slated for Saturday morning.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 10, 2012 2:31 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 2:43 pm

2012 Camping World Truck Series season preview

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Austin Dillon's move to the NWS opens the door for younger brother Ty to drive the championship-winning truck)

There will be a definite new-look to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2012. 

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Although former long-time organizations like Kevin Harvick Inc., Roush Fenway Racing or Germain Racing no longer participate in the truck series, several other teams have entered the fray to create an interesting landscape for the coming year, setting the tone for what should be a very competitive campaign. 

Team owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick decided to dissolve their highly successful KHI operation last year but the remnants of the team are alive and well in other locations. 

Richard Childress Racing acquired much of KHI’s assets for both its Nationwide and NCWTS programs and is set to defend its 2011 truck series title with a pair of full-time entries piloted by Ty Dillon, younger brother of last year’s champ, Austin, and Joey Coulter

The team will also field a third truck with Brendan Gaughan, Elliott Sadler and Harvick rotating rides behind the wheel to complete a very potent line-up. 

"I've got the trucks that won a championship last year, so I have all the resources and the ability to do it," said Ty Dillon, who inherits the No. 3 truck ride his brother piloted to the 2011 crown. "I have confidence in myself and my guys that we can go out there and get it done. It's just going to be overcoming our bad days and making them good." 

The younger Dillon turned in a successful ARCA Series effort last year as well as making a handful of truck starts. He believes he’s ready to take the next step in his career. 

“I learned a lot last year and have a great deal of resources and support at my fingertips,” Dillon said. “I’m looking forward to taking this challenge on full-time this season.” 

While RCR found a home for some of the previous KHI properties, Eddie Sharp Racing also wound up with much of the team’s equipment. 

Sharp took over KHI’s No. 8 and No. 33 trucks from last season, which were driven by Nelson Piquet Jr. and Ron Hornaday, and added them to his own entry to create a three-truck stable for 2012. 

Justin Lofton and Cale Gale team up in the operation’s full season program while former truck champ Mike Skinner has inked a deal to drive the third entry in the Daytona season opener. 

Sharp thinks the addition of the veteran Skinner to his effort at Daytona will help his goal of building the race team for the future. 

"ESR has made a significant investment over the winter and the vision is to have three full time teams," said Sharp. "We have two down and one to go, and now with the opportunity to race Daytona with Mike, we're inching closer to that happening. The goal is to keep Mike in the truck all year and run for a championship. If you miss Daytona winning a championship is no longer possible-you have to be there." 

ThorSport Racing will also support a three-truck program for 2012 in hopes of capturing its first series title. One of the longest-tenured teams in the series, the ThorSport trio of Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and former USAC star Dakoda Armstrong is set to compete for the championship. 

“This team is committed to getting the crown this season,” said Crafton, who starts his twelfth season with the team in 2012. “The ingredients are there for all three of us to have solid years. We had fast trucks last season but unfortunately ran into more than a few speed bumps along the way that we hope we’ll avoid this year. Confidence is pretty high right now for this race team.” 

Image Detail
(Hornaday's 2011 season with KHI included his controversial incident with Kyle Busch at Texas Motor Speedway)

As it is for Joe Denette Motorsports, another organization that is sporting a different look in 2012. 

Four-time series champ Hornaday and young Max Gresham will team up for the organization, owned by Denette who struck a fortune when he won the Virginia State Lottery a couple of years ago and bought himself a race team. 

Hornaday is hoping to hit the jackpot again this year with an unprecedented fifth series championship. 

“It’s impressive how much this race team has come together in a relative short period of time since I can on board,” said Hornaday, who spent last year with KHI. “There’s no reason we cannot contend for multiple wins and the championship this year and I’m really excited about the future with Joe Denette Motorsports.” 

Hornaday of course was involved in last year’s celebrated incident with Kyle Busch during the Texas truck race. After Busch ran Hornaday into the wall under caution after the two had already made contact, NASCAR parked Busch for the remaining Nationwide and Sprint Cup races that weekend. 

While Busch will still operate his Kyle Busch Motorsports team he will only drive a select number of Nationwide races and sit out the truck season portion of the program. 

Former Turner Motorsports driver Jason Leffler will drive the KBM No. 18 race in at least 14 races with sponsorship dictating how many more events the truck will compete. 

"As a racer, your ultimate goal is to win races, and driving the No. 18 Dollar General Tundra for KBM is definitely an opportunity where I expect to achieve that goal," said Leffler, who has made 46 career truck series starts. "Kyle has put together a first-class organization that builds top-notch equipment. I'm honored that he has the confidence in me as a driver to come in and carry on the winning tradition that his team has established.” 

There are a number of other teams planning to make an impact in 2012 including Turner Motorsports, which will compete with Piquet Jr., James Buescher and Miguel Paludo for the full campaign, Red Horse Racing’s combo of Timothy Peters and rookie John King with veteran Todd Bodine in a Daytona entry and Brad Keselowski’s truck team with Parker Kligerman behind the wheel.

Although the series schedule has dropped to 22 events, NASCAR expects that number to climb back to the traditional 25 races in the near future. A first-time visit to historic Rockingham Speedway, which had hosted the Sprint Cup Series racing until 2003, is a highlight of this year's slate.

There may not be as many races to watch this year but the competition level in the Camping World Truck Series has the potential to be very high.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 3:06 pm

Critical year ahead for Joe Gibbs Racing

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Kyle Busch has to win and contend for a title while keeping his emotions in check and controversy to a minimum)

CHARLOTTE - Joe Gibbs has had to go through rebuilding phases before during his NFL career as coach of the Washington Redskins.

But he'll need to apply those skills that built mediocre teams into Super Bowl winners to his NASCAR organization in 2012.

JGR suffered through a frustrating season last year, which might sound strange considering the team did score five Sprint Cup wins and placed two of its drivers in the Chase.

But despite Kyle Busch's four wins and Chase appearance and teammate Denny Hamlin's victory clinching him a wild card berth, overall the Gibbs group would like top put 2011 in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible.

Busch's emotional meltdown that resulted in his controversial truck series race incident with Ron Hornaday and subsequently being parked by NASCAR for the weekend's Sprint Cup race was the major memory for the Gibbs effort last season. Coupled with Hamlin's team and confidence also literally coming apart, it's easy to understand why Gibbs decided to make some changes in the off-season.

Two of the team's three crew chiefs were changed with both Hamlin and Joey Logano entering the new year with different voices calling the shots. Mike Ford was dismissed in favor of Darian Grubb, who found himself on the market when he was let go from Tony Stewart's championship-winning effort, while Jason Ratcliff was elevated from JGR's Nationwide Series program to work with Logano.

Although a competitive lap has not yet been run this season, the shake up has already infused some much-needed enthusiasm into the team.

“I’m really excited to join Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 11 FedEx team,” Grubb said. “We’re having lots of fun, we’re having lots of meetings. We’re kind of setting the course for what we want to do. We want to go out there and be competitive.”

Ratcliff is settling into working with Lagano and trying to fill the shoes of Greg Zipadelli, who left to rejoin friend and former colleague Stewart at SHR.

"(Team president) J.D. (Gibbs) gave me the opportunity about seven years ago to come over and work on the Nationwide program,” said Ratcliff. “It has been great for seven years and I knew it would have to be a really special deal to move beyond that. 

“They’ve given me an opportunity that fits well with a great driver, with great sponsors like Home Depot and Dollar General, and a team that is eager to go out and win races."

After nearly pulling off a championship run in 2010 only to come up just short of derailing the Jimmie Johnson title express, Hamlin found some very rough seas last season.

Although he was able to win and make the Chase, there was never a sense inside the team another championship challenge was possible and the decaying chemistry between Hamlin, Ford and the team finally took its toll.

Hamlin's confidence was shaken and he sought the professional assistance of a sports psychologist to help him return to the competitive level he was accustomed to prior to experiencing the issues.

He believes there is a lesson to be learned from what transpired last year.

"I think you need a season of getting your ass kicked for people to wake up and realize 'Hey, maybe we're not as good as we may think we are,'" Hamlin said. "We just never had the speed to make up for our problems. And when we got to the chase we just didn't have the parts and pieces to be championship caliber. 

"But this year the pieces are there."

Hamlin has already connected with Grubb and feels the support inside the JGR organization is positive enough to make a difference in the coming year.

"There are a lot of things that are stronger for us this year, and on top of that my confidence is way higher right now than it was at the start of 2011," Hamlin said.

Busch also shares Hamlin's positive outlook and has taken measures to refocus his energy. Gone is Busch's massive racing calendar of Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series events to augment his Sprint Cup schedule replaced by a by comparison limited 13-15 race slate in his own NWS entry at Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Speculation is that Gibbs and Cup sponsor M&M's were instrumental in Busch changing his extra-curricular racing involvement but he says it's not important why he's changing his approach.

“I would think that alleviates some stress and some opportunities for certain things to happen and give you a break from some of that,” Busch said. “It allows you to kind of relax a little bit."

Logano might have the luxury of relaxing as he enters the most pivotal Sprint Cup season of his career. 

The nickname of "Sliced Bread" has gotten stale for many both inside and outside JGR waiting for Logano to finally live up to the lofty expectations he brought to the sport when he came into NASCAR after a stellar short track career.

Although he's scored nine Nationwide wins for Busch as well as a Sprint Cup victory, Logano is on the hot seat as he enters the final year of his contract with the team.

Like Hamlin he's working with s sports psychologist to assist his understandably shaken confidence and hopes working with Ratcliff might be the spark to finally bring him the success so many predicted at NASCAR's highest level.

But Logano downplays whether this is indeed a "do or die" year coming up.

"I think this is a very important year just like any other year,"  Logano said. "You can argue that last year was equally as important as this year. I feel like I have the guys behind me, the team behind me to make that happen. I’d say it’s less pressure for me, I feel like I got what I need: A lot of energy, a lot of confidence in myself and my team this year. I feel like we can do it. I feel like we don’t have any excuses left."

In reality that statement holds true for the entire JGR operation. The excuse bin is running dry.

Logano is on the hot seat, Busch doesn't have any more room for error and Hamlin's career is suddenly at a crossroads.

Coach Gibbs needs to bring out the old football motivational playbook to get his race team on track or at the end of the season he may find himself forced to punt.


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Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:32 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 6:12 pm

Kyle Busch understands change is needed

By Pete Pistone

CHARLOTTE - Kyle Busch has learned from the mistakes he made last season and ready to make a fresh go of it in 2012.

Busch said during Monday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour he knows he can't continue to display the kinds of emotional actions that led to so much controversy - and trouble - last year.

"I've got fans all the time that tell me they don't want to see me change," Busch said. "I've tried to keep that, but ultimately, it's not going to work. If you keep getting in trouble, you're not going to be here very long. I'm trying to change something." 

His much-publicized incident with Ron Hornaday during last November's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway got Busch parked for the following Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.

That incident led to a number of follow-up actions that ultimately will see Busch curtailing his driving outside of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Sprint Cup ride in 2012.

Although Joe Gibbs Racing management hasn't officially commented on Busch's limited Nationwide Series schedule this season, which will see time spent in a Kyle Busch Motorsports entry for 13-15 races but no truck series starts, it is speculated sponsor M&M's also had a say in the decision.

Busch insists he has support from his race team, sponsors and most importantly his family and friends that have helped him work through the situation and concentrate on moving ahead in his life both professionally and personally.

"I'll tell you what, I didn't have much work to do with the people that were closest to me," Busch said. "Those people are the utmost supportive of me and who I am and (Busch's wife) Samantha and our relationship. You kind of have a family-type relationship with those folks and they know who you are as a person." 

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:24 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 9:12 pm

Busch Brothers team up for Nationwide effort

By Pete Pistone

(The Busch Brothers will share driving duties in the No. 54 Toyota sponsored by Monster Energy in 2012)


It will be Busch Brothers "Shootout Style' in the Nationwide Series this season.

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced its 2012 plans on Thursday that will see brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch share time behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota.

Monster Energy will sponsor the effort, which will compete for the Nationwide Series owners' championship.

Kyle is slated to run 13-15 races with Kurt taking the wheel for the remainder of the 33 race schedule.

“I’m proud to be a part of it," Kurt said of joining his brother's organization. "He won a Truck Series championship in his first year, and his team has kept on winning ever since. Now, it’s moving to the Nationwide Series, where the bar will remain high. His expectations are the same as mine, and we know each other better than anyone. We’re driven to win, and with Monster Energy driving us, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

The starts in his own ride will be the only Nationwide Series races on Kyle's schedule this year as Sprint Cup owner Joe Gibbs "recommended" he curtail his participation in the JGR cars set to compete this season.

Kurt will augment his KBM Nationwide schedule with a handful of starts for his new Sprint Cup Series team owner James Finch's NWS entry and compete at restrictor plate tracks in the team's Chevrolet.

Veteran crew chief Mike Beam will call the shots for the KBM No. 54 ride this season.

"I am excited to join the KBM team and to have Monster Energy as our sponsor," stated Beam. "Kyle and Kurt are two of the best drivers in NASCAR. To contend for the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner's Championship with Monster Energy and to have all of the elements in place that make a great team, you can not help being excited to be a part of this."

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 5:54 pm

Kyle Busch leads second Daytona test session

By Pete Pistone

  Denny Hamlin, Driver Of The #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Leads Teammate Kyle Busch, Driver Of The #18 M&M's Toyota, Out
(The two car tandem draft was very much on display in Thursday's second test session despite rule changes)

Thursday's second session of Daytona Preseason Thunder featured drafting after the day's opening single car test.

Despite NASCAR's rule changes two car drafting was again on display with the tandem of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano turning the fastest laps of the season. Busch recorded a lap of 202.402 mph to top the speed chart.

However it remains to be seen just how long drivers can comfortably hook up in the nose-to-tail formation before engines - because of the new two gallon radiator - begin to overheat.

NASCAR will increase the size of restrictor plates 15/16th of an inch as well as limit the grille opening by one inch on each side for Friday's session. The sanctioning body has also mandated pack drafting take place during both sessions.

Session 2

1. Kyle Busch 202.402 m.p.h.
2. Joey Logano 202.388 m.p.h.
3. Brad Keselowski 202.224 m.p.h.
4. AJ Allmendinger 202.220 m.p.h.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 200.920 m.p.h.
6. Jimmie Johnson 200.915 m.p.h.
7. Denny Hamlin 200.156 m.p.h.
8. Kasey Kahne 199.791 m.p.h.
9. Mark Martin 196.584 m.p.h.
10. Clint Bowyer 196.584 m.p.h.
11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 194.957 m.p.h.
12. Jeff Gordon 193.623 m.p.h.
13. Paul Menard 192.612 m.p.h.
14. Kurt Busch 192.164 m.p.h.
15. Tony Stewart 191.951 m.p.h.
16. Danica Patrick 191.926 m.p.h.
17. Greg Biffle 191.730 m.p.h.
18. Jeff Burton Chv 191.714 m.p.h.
19. Juan Pablo Montoya 191.616 m.p.h.
20. Matt Kenseth Frd 191.502 m.p.h.
21. Marcos Ambrose 191.461 m.p.h.
22. Ryan Newman 191.449 m.p.h.
23. Kevin Harvick 191.278 m.p.h.
24. Trevor Bayne 187.352 191.241 m.p.h.
25. Martin Truex Jr. 191.103 m.p.h.
26. Jamie McMurray 191.075 m.p.h.
27. Regan Smith 190.412 m.p.h.
28. Carl Edwards 190.335 m.p.h.
29 Aric Almirola 190.291 m.p.h.
30. Dave Blaney 189.661 m.p.h.
31. Casey Mears 188.794 m.p.h.
32. Joe Nemechek 187.352 m.p.h

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 5:26 pm

Kyle Busch hires Jason Leffler for truck team

By Pete Pistone

Jason Leffler was the odd man out of Turner Motorsports' Nationwide Series program for 2012 but the veteran driver has landed on his feet.

Leffler will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as the primary driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 18 Toyota this coming season.

Dollar General will sponsor the truck for Leffler's as of now 14-race schedule.

In 46 career Truck Series starts, the California native has registered one win, 19 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes. Leffler's 10 career poles rank him 10th on the series all-time list. In 2002, he captured a series-leading eight poles, ranked second with 494 laps led and collected 11 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes en route to a fourth-place finish in the final Truck Series point standings.

"As a racer, your ultimate goal is to win races, and driving the No. 18 Dollar General Tundra for KBM is definitely an opportunity where I expect to achieve that goal," said Leffler. "Kyle has put together a first-class organization that builds top-notch equipment. I'm honored that he has the confidence in me as a driver to come in and carry on the winning tradition that his team has established. Dollar General is one of the premier sponsors in our sport and I'm looking forward to representing them on and off the track."

"We are thrilled to have Leffler on board to drive the Dollar General Toyota this season," said Busch. "He's a pro behind the wheel and will be a great fit for the No. 18 Tundra."   

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com