Vegas fans supporting Kyle Busch? Well…maybe not

2 Comments

When Las Vegas throws a big party, it tends to draw in people from a lot of different places. So it goes again for this weekend’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

LVMS is considered the home track for both Kyle and Kurt Busch, who both grew up in the region. But in a presser this morning at the 1.5-mile oval, Kyle said that he wasn’t expecting to have a major contingent of hometown fans in his corner.

“This is a vacation destination for a lot of race fans, so there are a lot of out-of-towners that do come here,” he said. “It’s not 100,000 from Las Vegas that will be sitting in these grandstands. I bet you it’s like 20 or 30, but it’s just a part of the deal.”

The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota also mentioned another reason why there may not be a lot of locals in the stands to cheer him on.

“I’ll tell you this, when I was coming up through the ranks I won a lot and probably won too much and didn’t make very many friends, so I’m not sure I don’t have many pulling for me anyways because I kicked their butt too much,” he said.

That said, he did note the multiple drivers from Vegas that are competing this weekend, including himself and Kurt in the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series drivers Brendan Gaughan and Dylan Kwasniewski (Kyle will race against the latter two in tomorrow’s 300-mile NNS race).

He had advice in particular for the 18-year-old Kwasniewski, who is very familiar with LVMS’ nearby “Bullring” short oval but is making his debut this weekend on the big Vegas track.

“The biggest thing is just trying to make a name for yourself while doing it smoothly,” said Busch, who was 11th-fastest in this afternoon’s Cup practice.

“You don’t want to go out there and be stupid and wreck a ton of guys and make enemies right off the bat. There’s been a few that have done that and it still lingers in their reputation today.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.