Truck regulars weigh in on Kyle Busch debate
June 10, 2013, Kristen Boghosian, NASCAR.com
When Kyle Busch isn’t racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, though the chance of winning may be higher, the victory isn’t quite as sweet. At Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend -- the first race without Busch since he swept the previous two -- the Sprint Cup Series driver was, surprisingly, missed.
“I want to get back to Victory Lane, but I want to do it when Kyle Busch or Mark Martin or Carl Edwards is out there,” Brendan Gaughan, a four-time winner at Texas, said. “You wanna race against the best, and right now, Kyle Busch is the best.”
In the four Camping World Truck Series races he’s been in this year, Busch has won two, placed second once and crashed out of the other. He’s started in the top five twice, and led 153 laps. By comparison, Trucks Series points leader Matt Crafton has led 44 laps so far this season.
Veterans of the series say a win would mean more if it were against the best in the business. They’d rather chance losing to him than lose the chance of beating him.
Younger drivers enjoy having the chance to learn from a proven Cup driver -- and there is a lot they can learn from Busch, the youngest winner ever at Texas Motor Speedway until Jeb Burton took that record on Friday night.
“…You’ve got to believe that you can just constantly learn off of them,” said Chad Hackenbracht, who ran Busch’s No. 51 truck at Texas, “whether it be how they race, how they pass you or, once they pass you, how you see them get around someone else. I can only see it as being a benefit.”
It’s also a chance for drivers to see how they measure up to drivers in NASCAR’s premier series, such as Busch and reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski, another regular double-duty driver.
“I’ve always enjoyed it when the Cup drivers or Nationwide drivers come back and race in the Truck Series because it really gives you a chance to compare yourself 100 percent to the guys that are racing on Sunday,” KBM driver Joey Coulter said. “And, two, obviously if you beat 'em it looks really good, and if you don’t beat 'em, usually if you really pay attention, you can learn a lot from 'em,”
Busch has never run a full trucks series season. The closest he has come was in 2008, when he ran 18 of the season’s 25 races. That same year, he won eight races in the Sprint Cup Series -- the most wins he has had in a season to date. In 30 Nationwide races that year, he nabbed 10 wins in the Series -- his second-best season only to 13 wins in 2010, when he won eight Trucks races and three Cup races. Yet Busch isn’t the only one who benefits from racing in all three series.
“It does hurt (the KBM) organization as a whole when he’s not here, 'cause you know that he… can change things that well, and it is a good voice box for Joey (Coulter) and the kids (Darrell Wallace Jr. and Hackenbracht), so I think it kinda hurts them a little bit,” Gaughan said. “Not Joey so much; he’s got more experience, but Darrell and Chad, would be nice if they could have Kyle here to lean on.”
While there seems to be a line of age and experience dividing drivers who want the Joe Gibbs Racing driver there to provide competition and those who want to learn from him, the sentiment about his presence on the track with them is the same.
“Whether Kyle’s a Cup guy or not, he’s winning races,” James Buescher, currently sixth in the standings after a ninth-place finish at Fort Worth, said. “So, I don’t think it matters that he’s a Cup guy. I think it matters that he’s got it figured out how to win it in truck, and we gotta figure out how to beat him. … Just because he does something else on Sunday doesn’t make it him any different of a competitor on Friday night.”