Tackling the ‘lady in black’ with Monster Energy athlete and driver Kyle Busch
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 8, 2014) – The No. 54 Monster Energy team looks forward to week seven in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, tackling the ‘lady in black’ with Monster Energy athlete and driver Kyle Busch. The Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team has accomplished a strong start to the 2014 race season, with two wins and six top-five finishes secured in the first six Nationwide Series events. Additionally team owner J.D. Gibbs maintains first place in the series’ Owner’s Championship points standing, 14 markers ahead of competitor Roger Penske. This week they look to extend that lead, with what they hope will be their third season victory at a track the team and Busch dominated last year.
In May of 2013, Busch mastered the 1.36-mile oval, by starting from the pole, leading the field four times for 107 of the 147-lap event (72.8%) and bringing home the checkered flag. The victory was Busch’s 56th in 252 series starts and the JGR teams’ fifth series win of 2013 and seventh top-10 finish in nine starts at the beginning of last season. Busch accomplished the win from the pole position, also the last driver to accomplish the feat, previously doing it in 2011. The Darlington track is also the site of Busch’s first series pole recorded on March 20, 2004.
Crew chief Adam Stevens, himself, is no stranger to success on the South Carolina facility. Finishing second to Busch in 2011 was team leader Stevens, at the time with JGR driver Denny Hamlin in another team entry. One year later, in 2012, at the same spring Darlington event, it was Stevens who took first place, with former JGR driver Joey Logano. Then came the 2013 victory with Busch and the No. 54 Monster Energy team. Needless to say they’ve both been successful in mastering the difficult oval, a feat coveted by many.
As a unit, in 40 races at Darlington Raceway in the Nationwide Series, Joe Gibbs Racing has accomplished eight wins, seven in the last eight years, along with 17 top-five, 25 top-10 finishes and four poles. The organization has led for a total of 789 laps, has an average start of 13.6, an average finish of 11.1 and has completed 5,581 of 5,833 (95.7%) laps. They’ll look to extend that winning record again this weekend.
Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
Darlington is another strong track for you, are you looking forward to this week’s Friday night race?
“I’m looking forward to hopefully getting back to victory lane. We’ve had a few close weeks, just need to close the deal. This is another one where the track surface will greatly affect our tires so we’ll have to keep a good eye on tire wear. I’ve always enjoyed racing in Darlington though, it’s challenging but rewarding too, when you can bring it home.”
Adam Stevens, Crew Chief of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
You and Kyle had success together last year at Darlington, do you prepare any differently this time around?
“It has only been a few short years since they repaved Darlington however the surface is aging quickly and grip and tire wear will be a big part of the weekend. Tires were worth something last year and will likely be worth even more this time around. The key to this weekend will be trying to find a good setup when we practice in the early afternoon on a green track and then race at night. You can really chase your tail if you don’t know what you are looking for. Kyle is incredible here so we will be leaning on him heavily. There is no room for error on the track as the preferred line is on the fence. A momentary lapse of concentration or slight miscalculation can make for a long weekend.”
Notes of Interest:
>Recent Loop Data Statistics record Busch with the top spot for driver rating at Darlington in the Nationwide Series (127.9, 9.5 avg finish) with the Highest Average Mid-Race Position (2.5), Highest Number of Fastest Laps (197, 30%), Highest Number of Laps Led (322, 36.2%), Highest Number of Quality Passes (95.3%), Fastest Early in a Run (166.112 mph), Fastest on Restarts (157.643 mph), Fastest Green Flag Speed (162.714 mph) and Fastest Speed by Quarter (all four).
>At Darlington, Busch is the Youngest Pole Winner achieving his first one on 03/20/2004 at 18 years, 10 months and 18 days.
>Crew Chief Adam Stevens’ Darlington Raceway statistics include three races, two wins (2012-Joey Logano, 2013-Kyle Busch), three top-five finishes, three top-10 finishes, one pole, and 445 laps led.
>Kyle Busch has two wins in the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry this season, registering victories at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, 3/1/14 and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, 3/15/14.
>Kyle Busch is the only active driver who has led laps in every NASCAR Nationwide Series event so far in 2014–six races. To date this season, Busch is the leader in laps led 36.44% or 415 laps and in miles led, 31.72% or 485.46 miles.
>Kyle Busch holds a 10-year streak from 2004 to 2013 of consecutive poles within the Nationwide Series, 36 career total.