JOLIET, Ill. – A ticked-off Kyle Busch is the most dangerous kind of Kyle Busch.
Busch was visibly dejected after dominating and then losing to Kevin Harvick in Saturday afternoon’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
What better way for Busch to get rid of that dejection than to dominate and win the second half of a rare doubleheader, capturing the Lucas Oil 225 Camping World Truck Series race.
“I just told him you have to let it go,” said Eric Phillips, Busch’s NCWTS crew chief. “We’re both so competitive. I wanted to talk to him, wanted to make sure he cleared his mind and we had a job to do.”
It was Busch’s sixth win in eight starts on the Truck circuit this season and the 41st Truck win of his career. It’s also the ninth win this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports and his fourth career Truck triumph at Chicagoland Speedway.
“It was fun for us and this 51 Tundra was awesome for us,” Busch said. “This doesn’t make our (NNS) loss any sweeter, no, because we could have had two and gotten three tomorrow.
“But maybe we can still win two of three tomorrow (in Sunday’s opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup).”
Busch will start the MyAFibStory.com 400 from the pole position, earning that spot after Friday’s Sprint Cup Series qualifying session was rained out.
What made Busch’s accomplishment all the more remarkable is he started the race from the back of the field. He passed 59 lead-lap trucks en route to the win, leading 66 of the event’s 150 laps.
“This is a true testament to where this team has come from this year,” Busch said. “It’s a good win for us.”
Matt Crafton led 14 laps but finished second to Busch for the sixth time this season.
“I’m tired of finishing second to him (Busch),” Crafton said with a laugh. “That 51 truck was great. But our truck, we just needed a little bit more.”
Even with the runner-up finish, Crafton regained the Camping World Truck Series standings lead by five points over former points leader Johnny Sauter with seven races left.
Austin Dillon led the second-most number of laps (28) and finished third. Rookie Tyler Reddick was fourth, followed by Jeb Burton in fifth.
Busch’s teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr., finished sixth, followed by rookie Ben Kennedy, Joey Coulter, Joe Nemechek and Bryan Silas.
Tyler Young was 11th, followed by Ryan Blaney, Brennan Newberry, Johnny Sauter, John Wes Townley, Mason Mingus, Timothy Peters, Ray Black Jr., German Quiroga and Todd Peck.
Jennifer Jo Cobb was 21st, followed by Justin Jennings, Tayler Malsam, Michael Affarano, Todd Shafer, TJ Bell, Norm Benning, Caleb Roark, Scott Stenzel, Adam Edwards, Ted Minor and Mike Harmon.
There will come a day that when three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown wants to talk to his boss, he’ll need to look no further than in the mirror.
The New Jersey native announced Tuesday that he has begun to lay the groundwork to own his Top Fuel team, eventually branching out from Don Schumacher Racing.
“It’s definitely exciting, but at the same time, it’s also nerve-wracking because the buck stops here right now,” Brown told NBC Sports. “Now the coolest part is you get to help and drive and motivate and push the team forward, to make decisions and leave a legacy behind for my family.”
Brown will continue racing for DSR this season while beginning the transition to eventual sole ownership of the new AB Motorsports in the future. Even when he officially leaves the DSR camp as a hired driver, Brown and his new team will retain a technical partnership with the Schumacher organization.
Moving toward team ownership is just a natural evolution for Brown, who previously ran his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team from 1998 until joining DSR in 2002. It’s also a move that potentially may lead other current drivers to start thinking about their own futures.
It’s no secret that many of the biggest names in drag racing – both drivers and owners – are getting up in years. John Force will soon turn 72, while Schumacher is 75. They’re among several others in the sport who are making contingency plans for their teams to continue to operate once they’re gone – and Brown wants to do his part to help the sport grow and flourish.
“When you’re able to have ownership, you’re looking at the talent coming up,” Brown said. “You’re able to reach down and see and give other people opportunities that you had. When I came to race for Don Schumacher at DSR, he’s given all these people at his place this opportunity to drive.
“But what happens when the Don Schumachers, the John Forces, the Connie Kalittas go? You lose all the owners of our series, so who’s next in line to take over that lineage or carry that torch? It’s a necessary means for the future for the upcoming people.
“I’ve been in this sport for over 20 years. This is the next evolution of my chapter, the next page of my book. What am I going to do when I decide to hang the helmet up one day? I want to be there to bring that new crop of drivers and talent up and help mold them to be the best version of themselves to carry the sport forward and to share with them what was shared with me over all my years in the sport, from Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Big Daddy Don Garlits, Mark Oswald and Don “Snake” Prudhomme, all the people I looked up to.”
While Brown will start as a single-car team once he transitions to ownership, he hopes to eventually build AB Motorsports into at least a two-car operation, with his Top Fuel dragster and a Funny Car.
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The path to eventual ownership began nearly a year ago when Brown and Schumacher discussed the future.
“Me and Don had a heart-to-heart talk,” Brown said. “When I told him what I wanted to do, Don said, ‘Antron, I know this is what you want to do. I’ll support you in this.’
“That’s a cool experience when you have a gentleman that has done everything in this sport, from over 350 national event wins, 17 world championships – and I’ve done three with him – and is in every motorsports hall of fame there is.
“What is he going to do next? He’s making the sport better by pushing people like myself to do what I’m doing now. No matter how long it takes, I know I have him on my backside, pushing me to get to that point.”
His family’s future also figured into Brown’s decision. His oldest son, Anson, soon turns 16 years old and is heavily involved in NHRA’s Jr. Dragster program, as are Brown’s other children. It’s likely his son some day will follow in his father’s footsteps.
But don’t think that the elder Brown, who turns 44 in March, is ready to hang up his firesuit just yet.
“I’ll stop driving when I feel I’m not capable to drive no more and I’m not having fun no more,” he said. “That’s nowhere in the near future. I know I’m going to drive for at least another 15 years.”
Heading into this season, Brown will retain current sponsorship from Mac Tools and Toyota, as well as associate sponsorship from Hangsterfer’s on his 11,000-horsepower dragster. Global Electronic Technology also has signed on as a new associate sponsor in a multiyear deal.
“It’s no secret this has been a goal of Antron’s for a while now, and I’m happy to be able to provide the tools and resources needed for him to be able to successfully branch out on his own,” Schumacher said in a team media release. “It’s important for me to see my team members grow.”
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Brown burst upon the NHRA scene atop a Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998, earning 16 wins over the next 10 seasons. He joined DSR in 2002 and made the switch to Top Fuel in 2008.
Since then, Brown – who now resides in suburban Indianapolis – has gone on to become one of the winningest drivers in Top Fuel history with 50 national event victories, as well as three championships between 2012 and 2015.
That performance recently earned him AutoWeek magazine’s Top Fuel Driver of the Decade.
Brown also announced Tuesday he is reuniting with former crew chief Brian Corradi, who returns to the team after spending the last two seasons as co-crew chief for 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. Corradi will share crew chief duties for Brown with NHRA veteran Mark Oswald.
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When he won his first title in 2012, Brown became the first African-American world champion in Top Fuel history. He hopes his move to ownership will continue to grow NHRA’s already significant focus on opportunities for minorities and females in the sport.
“I think it’s important across all spectrums, period,” Brown said. “I think a lot of fans see me, and they can relate to me because I am them. I came from a good, hard-working family in Chesterfield, New Jersey, which is right next door to Trenton.
“Everybody in my family from my great uncles to my grandpop made their own way, had their own businesses, from swimming pool to paving to septic tank businesses.
“One thing my grandpop said to me is the world is wide open. He said, ‘Son, you can have anything you want in this world, as long as you put the effort and put the work towards it.’ If people can resonate with my story from where I came from and where I’m heading, I hope it gives them this energy, this ray of hope that ‘if Antron Brown can do this, so can I.’
“That’s the only way for motorsports to grow. It’s for the young ones to get interested in it and I want them to know the opportunity is there. All they have to do is take it.”
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Brown will be among more than 30 Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers who will take part in this weekend’s annual preseason “spring training” test at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals Feb. 6-9 in Pomona, California.