Defending race winner Kyle Busch: ‘Loudon is Martinsville-like track’
Kyle Busch knows all about what it takes to win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will run this Sunday.
After all, he is the defending winner in the summer race at the 1.058-mile track, having won there last July for his third win in a remarkable stretch of five races when he won four overall.
"Loudon is a Martinsville-like short track, but it’s just over a mile," Busch said. "It’s a little more spread out, but there’s some rooting and gouging going on because it’s a one-lane track and everybody fights for that particular groove.
"To be fast at Loudon, you have to have good brakes and you have to roll the center really well and get that good forward bite off the corners and make sure it sticks. The biggest thing about Loudon is you keep losing front turn and that’s why the brakes go away — just because the corners are longer and more sweeping than you need to keep those front tires around you."
Busch also knows how Loudon can leave a driver feeling lousy.
Although he was able to recover and went on to win the 2015 Sprint Cup championship, the 37th-place finish he recorded last fall at the track after wrecking nearly made that impossible.
Even when he claimed his second career victory at NHMS last summer, he thought he was toast when he thought he felt a tire going down during the race.
"I remember I thought I chewed the right-front tire off of it because I went into the corner and the thing just went straight one time, so I was like, ‘Man, I’m down to cords now. That’s it — it’s done.’ " Busch said. "We shot to pit road and got it changed there and evidently it was oil on the race track that just made the car slip so bad right out from under me."
It forced Busch to bring his car to pit road on Lap 244 of the race scheduled for 301 laps — sooner than he or crew chief Adam Stevens had planned.
But that in turn allowed Busch to make up lost time on the track while other contending cars stayed out on old tires. The impromptu "strategy" ultimately played out in his favor.
Shortly thereafter, Busch got back on the lead lap with creative passes of Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, who were running 1-2 at the time. He did so by weaving through traffic on the frontstretch just seconds before NASCAR threw a caution flag for fluid on the track.
Busch inherited the lead when the rest of the lead-lap cars were forced to pit, and he led the rest of the way.
"We got a lucky break and I hauled butt," Busch said. "Man, those five laps I ran were five qualifying laps through traffic trying to get back up to the front and pass Harvick to stay on the lead lap.
"That was our saving grace and ultimately we were able to win."
Busch obviously would like to be able to repeat it and land another lobster trophy in Victory Lane this Sunday.
"It was really special last year," Busch said. "Being able to take home another trophy from there would be pretty cool. … We would certainly like to do it again this weekend."