CP MOTORSPORTS - BUSCH BROTHERS FINDING THEIR GROOVE
They are brash, fearless and fast.
They are the Busch brothers, those Las Vegas gunslingers that NASCAR promoters and TV producers crave, and some fans hate to love.
After enduring more than a few painful twists and turns over their careers, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch seem to have finally landed in comfort zones.
Kyle is currently the hottest driver in the sport, reeling off three wins over the past four races in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. When he was forced to miss the first 11 events of the 2015 season due to a broken foot and leg, Kyle was basically written off as a contender in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship.
But Kyle has not only stormed back into Chase competition by winning at three different types of tracks, he has managed harness the volcano-like temper that often drew the ire of rivals, fans and race officials
Count team owner Joe Gibbs as a true Kyle Busch believer.
“I think it's a great, great story,” said Gibbs, during a recent teleconference. “It’s a personal story for him because you see somebody like that suffer such a tough, tough injury. We were really worried about Sonoma, even being able to drive the race.”
Busch not only survived the grueling 12-turn road course challenge at Sonoma on June 28, he dominated. Busch then earned more rave reviews in the July 19 New Hampshire exam, overcoming extreme heat and battling back from a lap down to win yet again.
“In sports you do see stories like this where somebody is really hurt, then to be able to come back in this amount of time, it's a special story,” Gibbs said.
According to Busch, there has been no magic formula to his Disney-worthy rally. It’s all about business.
“We just have to keep doing our deal every weekend, and it’s been getting better and better,” Busch said. Certainly the right thing to do is to win races and to gather those points, but to do it in the fashion we have been – just winning these things, that’s just spectacular and that’s awesome.”
Awesome is one way to describe the 2015 season for Kurt Busch. After being placed on indefinite suspension for domestic violence allegations at the start of the season, Kurt was forced to miss three races.
He has since recovered to post two victories in 16 starts in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, while registering 11 top-10 finishes and crafting a solid eighth place position in Sprint Cup points.
“We almost could have had as many race wins as we had races we were under suspension,” said Kurt Busch after the Sonoma race which marked the halfway point of the season. “So there are so many things that have gone into place for us to be successful.”
Kurt credits the wisdom of his old school crew chief Tony Gibson for his current production.
Gibson served as the car chief for 1992 NASCAR series champion Alan Kulwicki before moving onto to direct the high-profile show as crew chief for drivers such as Steve Park, Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick.
“The number one thing for us is Tony Gibson,” Kurt Busch said. “He builds great race cars, it's a pleasure to drive for him, and I love the team camaraderie. I haven't had this type of team chemistry since my championship year. It feels good to have that.”
Working with first-year crew chief Daniel Knost for most of last season, Kurt Busch struggled to a 12th place finish in points. Gibson jumped to the Busch team late in the season, and the chemistry has been building ever since.
Team co-owner Gene Haas said he has total confidence in his team and driver.
“I'm absolutely clear that I think Kurt Busch has the ability to win another Cup for us and for Stewart-Haas Racing, and that really was my vision and goal,” Haas said.
For the Busch brothers, a championship is always the bottom line.
“I don't know if everybody else is running at 100 percent, but if they are, then we're beating them,” Kyle Busch said. “My 100 percent is better than theirs. If there's guys out there only running at 80 percent and they're finishing third, fourth, fifth, we better watch our backs for when they do turn up the wick and Chase time hits.”