Busch gave Toyota its first restrictor-plate track race win when he drove his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry to victory at the 2.66-mile Alabama track in April 2008. In 11 career starts here, he has a total of four top-five finishes.
Following are Busch’s thoughts about this weekend’s Halloween racing at Talladega.
What is the best-case scenario at Talladega with five laps to go?You just want to be leading and protect what you’ve got and try to keep the rest of the guys behind you. You know it’s going to be tough. You know it’s going to be crazy and guys are going to try to go three-wide, four-wide and everywhere trying to get a push-draft going and everything. If you were leading and you had a teammate behind you or something like that, obviously that would make it pretty good.
Who is your favorite drafting partner at Talladega?I don’t know. I’ve drafted well with a lot of people over the past, but I would say (Juan Pablo) Montoya helped me win the race that I won at Talladega a couple of years ago. Jimmie (Johnson) is always pretty good to draft with. My brother (Kurt Busch), as well, but many more than that. It just all depends on which other cars end up working well with your car.
What is the key to pulling off a victory at Talladega?The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble with our M848ff8if9a6fb627facGGcdbcce6M’s Camry. You pretty much stay around the bottom, since there is a lot of grip there, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single-file at the bottom, sometimes it’s hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good cars to get something going. It can be frustrating at times because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that’s when it starts to get crazy.
Does being a former race winner at Talladega offer you any sort of advantage over the competition?It doesn’t matter at all. It’s such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what’s going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from.
Your race car is sporting the special M848ff8if9a6fb627facGGcdbcce6M’s Halloween paint scheme again this week. What was your favorite Halloween costume that you wore as a kid?Actually, one year I went as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I think that was my favorite costume as a kid. I was Michelangelo and I even had the fake nunchuk. One year, I was a football player and, one year, I even dressed up as Jeff Gordon since he was my favorite racecar driver when I was kid.
Growing up in Las Vegas, what do you remember about Halloween and trick-or-treating?It was always cold in Las Vegas during Halloween, even though it can be really hot most of the year. I guess the biggest memory was going out to everyone’s house and trick-or-treating and hanging out with friends as a group. Sometimes, people wouldn’t be home, so they had a bucket out and you would reach in and grab whatever you wanted out of the bucket. It was all about how much candy you could collect, not necessarily about how much you would eat when you got home.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.