Kurt and Kyle Busch are out to defend their home turf this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – and jump-start their respective 2013 campaigns as well.
Older brother Kurt has never won in his backyard, collecting just one top-5 finish in 12 Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile oval. He returns to Vegas after posting 28th and 27th-place finishes at Daytona and Phoenix respectively to start the year. But those results are hiding what have been strong performances from the former Cup champion.
Last week at Phoenix, Kurt was forced to start from the rear of the field in his backup car but managed to make his way into the top 10. Unfortunately for him, late handling problems and a run-in with the wall ruined what had been a good drive. Two weeks ago at Daytona, he was running in the lead pack early on before being caught in a nine-car incident that damaged his car; the subsequent repairs on pit road knocked him multiple laps off the pace.
“We proved that we can run up front in both Daytona and Phoenix, but accidents and untimely car issues have held us back,” Kurt said. “We have the potential to be contending at the end, but need to have a clean and error-free race.”
As for his “Rowdy” younger sibling, Kyle has had his share of early trials too. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota fell out of the Daytona 500 due to engine woes, and at PIR, his own impressive charge to the front was effectively stopped with a spin on Lap 48 that ended with his car sustaining a damaged front splitter; he wound up 23rd at the finish.
Still, Kyle relishes the opportunity to once again rise to the challenge in front of family and friends. He scored a win at LVMS in 2009 that he considers one of the biggest of his career and is keen on a second triumph in Sin City this weekend.
“Vegas always means a little bit more pressure – more pressure on myself – just because it’s the hometown and you want to win there,” he said. “Thankfully, I have won there and I’ve knocked that one off the list, but certainly you want to win there every year.
“It seems like either Carl [Edwards] or Jimmie [Johnson] are better than most, but I love Vegas, the atmosphere and everything going on around that place. It’s always been a big race for us and the team.”