When it comes to the intermediate tracks this season, Kyle Busch has been either at the front of the field or behind the pit wall.
On home turf, “Rowdy” finished fourth at the first 1.5-mile oval of the year in Las Vegas and then scored the win at the next mile-and-a-half at Texas. But his last two runs on this type of track have ended in calamity; a crash with Joey Logano relegated him to a 38th-place finish at Kansas and in last month’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, Busch’s engine let go, saddling him with another 38th-place result.
However, Kentucky Speedway represents a great opportunity for him to reach another peak on the mile-and-a-halves. He won the inaugural Cup race there in 2011 and led 118 laps in last year’s Quaker State 400 before finishing 10th. He’s also won at Kentucky in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the lower-level ARCA stock car series.
“I like running here at Kentucky – why I run well here, I don’t know,” he said on Thursday. “It’s an interesting race track and it’s certainly challenging and tough, and it brings out the better drivers…You have to have a good-handling race car around here on the bumps, but you can detune the speed of your race car to get over the bumps better and slow your car down, which is not very good.
“You have to find the happy medium of that and I think [crew chief] Dave Rogers does a really good job of being able to help me with that as well as just being able to keep the speed in the car.”
Busch’s crew chief has his own winning pedigree at Kentucky as well. Rogers called Joey Logano’s 2008 and 2009 Nationwide victories there when the young driver was still with Joe Gibbs Racing; the former victory was Logano’s first triumph in NASCAR’s No. 2 series.
Tonight’s race will mark the end of a tripleheader weekend at Kentucky for Busch, who finished fifth in last night’s NNS race and third in Thursday night’s Truck event.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
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