Kyle Busch On Verge Of Something Special In Aaron's 312
Kyle Busch will attempt to accomplish something that has happened only once in the 27-season history of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, when the Aaron’s 312 takes place Saturday at 2 p.m. CDT at Talladega Superspeedway.
Busch has won the past three NASCAR Nationwide races, at Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City. The series record for consecutive victories is four, set by Sam Ard in 1983 during the circuit’s second season.
Making it four in a row could prove to be a challenge for Busch. He has never won a race at Talladega and has failed to finish in the top-10 in any of his past six NASCAR starts at the track (including the Cup and Truck Series). In 12 career Talladega starts, Busch has finished outside the top-30 seven times.
But Busch has been running close to the front nearly everywhere else so far in 2008. The Las Vegas native currently is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, third in the Nationwide Series and first in the Craftsman Truck Series.
“I feel like we’ll have a decent shot at it,” Busch said of picking up his fourth consecutive Nationwide win on Saturday. “But I tend to have a tough time finishing races here, so if any track would kill the streak, it’s going to be here.”
Busch will start eighth in the Aaron’s 312 after turning a fast lap of 184.264 mph during Friday’s qualifying session at the 2.66-mile tri-oval.
Tony Stewart, Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, took the pole position during qualifying with a speed of 185.308. It is the first Talladega pole for Stewart in any series in his career, and he has yet to win a race at the track.
Mike Bliss will start on the front row with Stewart, followed by Jason Leffler in third, Dario Franchitti fourth, Brad Keselowski fifth, Nationwide Series points leader Clint Bowyer sixth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh.
Franchitti, the 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner, said he is looking forward to the race as he continues to make the transition from open-wheel racing to stock cars.
“With Indy Cars, it’s all about getting the draft from the car in front of you. Whereas when you run in a stock car of any kind, the guy behind you is as important, if not more important, than the guy in front,” Franchitti said.
“It’s taken a little to get used to the intricacies of drafting, and there are these guys who have been doing it for years. I’m learning on the job. Every time I get on the track, I’m learning.”
The Nationwide races also can be learning experiences for the Nationwide Series regulars, since they have to compete head-to-head with many of the Sprint Cup regulars.
Sprint Cup regulars currently hold the top five positions in the Nationwide Series point standings. Boyer leads the way, followed by Edwards, Busch, David Reutimann and David Ragan.
In addition, fulltime Cup drivers have won seven of the nine Nationwide races this season, and semi-retired Cup driver Mark Martin also has a Nationwide victory. Scott Wimmer is the only true non-Cup driver to win a Nationwide Series race this season.
“It’s tough when you’re racing against Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart, especially on these superspeedways,” said Leffler, a fulltime Nationwide driver. “Because half of your mind is saying, ‘Stay behind them and you’ll have a good finish.’ And the competitive side is saying, ‘Go past them.’ It would be a big day if we could beat one of those guys.”
Seven of the top 11 qualifiers in the Aaron’s 312 are Sprint Cup regulars. But Stewart said that does not mean a Sprint Cup driver will definitely win the race.
“The guys who have made it to the Nationwide Series level have talent just like the Sprint Cup guys,” Stewart said. “It can be done. It’s just a matter of putting yourself in the right position at the right time. If you do that, you can win the race.”
Driver introductions for Saturday’s race are scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. The 117-lap race is set to begin at 2 p.m.
Children age 11 and younger will be admitted free of charge with a ticketed adult in the general admission grandstands area for all of Saturday’s activities, including The Birmingham News Qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Tickets are still available to the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which includes The Birmingham News Qualifying on Friday, the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday and the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. Tickets may be ordered by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.racetickets.com, and are also available for purchase on-site at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.