It doesn’t seem to make sense that Kyle Busch, one of NASCAR’s most aggressive drivers with a penchant for taking risks, has zero wins in the Sprint All-Star Race, an event that is all about aggression and risk.
But there it is in the record – seven races, no victories in the non-points event for Busch.
He has been up front – but not at the finish. Last year he led 19 laps but finished second. He led 23 laps in 2010 but finished 14th and 33 laps in 2009 before finishing seventh.
Could Saturday night’s 28th race in the series open the door?
Busch is one-for-one in non-points races this season, having turned in a spectacular performance – rescuing his car from near disaster not once but twice – to win the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway in February. He edged Tony Stewart at the finish for his first win in the Shootout.
Success in the All-Star Race, Busch said, is all about aggression – smart aggression.
“I think just being aggressive and knowing when to be aggressive and how to be aggressive is the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s a race where you have to get to the front and you have to get out there and get yourself, more importantly, in clean air in order to keep yourself out front and on your own.”
And a key is deciding when to do what, Busch said.
“I’ve been aggressive, and I’ve been maybe too aggressive at points and not aggressive enough at other points,” he said. “Last year, we just ran a clean race and didn’t really do much aggressive driving or anything, and we ended up second (to Carl Edwards). Maybe there was a little bit more that needed to be done but, overall, it was a good week there for us with our M848ff8if9a6fb627facGGcdbcce6M’s Camry.”
Saturday night’s race, which will be televised live by SPEED, will be run in segments of 20, 20, 20, 20 and 10 laps. The leaders at the end of each of the first four segments will be placed in the first through fourth positions before the field pits prior to the final 10-lap shootout.
Busch said the competition is all about running a lot of consecutive “qualifying” laps.
“It gives you the opportunity to run, whether it’s a 40-lap segment, 25-lap segment, 10-lap segment – it gives you the opportunity to run that many qualifying laps in a row,” he said. “That’s all you’re doing – you're giving it all you’ve got every single lap. You’re definitely up on top of the wheel, and your guys do the best they can to give you a good car and to make it as lightweight as possible and throw away the air conditioning unit and keep all the front fans away from you – no radiator fan. All that stuff – just try to lighten that baby up and make it fast.
“You’re just trying to get the most you can out of your car there. It’s sometimes hard to pass because the guy in front of you is trying to get the most out of his car and so are you, so you just can’t get there.”
Saturday night Busch tries to get there for the first time.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.