Kyle Busch: “We tried everything” to keep up with Kenseth

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After the first two races of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, it would appear that Kyle Busch’s greatest competition for the championship will be none other than his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth.

Busch fell just short to Kenseth last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, and today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he ran out of time in his bid to hunt him down, losing out by half a second in the end.

In regards to having to likely duel with Kenseth for the Cup, Busch feels that he and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team can’t do anything different than what they’ve been doing lately.

“I think the organization is going to give the equipment to the both of us,” Busch explained at NHMS. “I don’t think any one of us is going to get better stuff. It’s just going to come down to better communication between myself and the crew chief in that way, because those are certainly the ways that you win these things.

“That’s how you build speed, getting your car better all through the weekend. But if you can unload and just hit it and be on it and get going, then that’s a better way to win each weekend…”

Kenseth was certainly “on it” at the Magic Mile today, leading a race-high 106 laps en route to his seventh victory of the year. Busch felt that his own race was “pretty good” but admitted that he couldn’t hang with Kenseth no matter what he and his team could come up with.

“Certainly, we were never as fast this weekend as the 20 [Kenseth] was,” Busch said. “They just had a special car. Sometimes you unload with them, and they’re just phenomenal. The 20 had that here this weekend.

“We tried everything to try to keep up with him and to get pace with him, but it was tough to do.”

Not helping matters for Busch, in his mind, was an ill-fated final restart with 41 laps remaining that subsequently forced him to try and cover a sizable gap in the closing laps.

“I spun my tires a little bit so I didn’t get a chance to race him at all, and then I had to fend off everybody else and get stretched out and try to run him down,” Busch said.

He came close to doing just that. But with his teammate running on all cylinders, “close” will not be good enough if he wants to win the Chase.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”