Kurt Busch is doing something this weekend at Michigan International Speedway that he hasn't done in quite some time - competing in a Camping World Truck Series race.
In addition to his Sprint Cup Series duties, Busch is expected to make his first Truck Series appearance in 11 years. He is scheduled to drive the No. 18 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. His younger brother, Kyle, will not be at Michigan for the race on Saturday, since he is competing in the Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
Jason Leffler had been driving the No. 18 truck this season, but earlier this week, KBM announced that Leffler and the team have parted ways. Brian Scott will drive for the team in next week's race at Bristol, and Drew Herring will take over the wheel in the Sept. 15 event at Iowa.
Kurt Busch finished second in points and earned rookie-of-the-year honors in the Truck Series in 2000. He also collected four wins and four poles that season. Busch graduated to NASCAR's premier series the following year.
"This is exactly what having fun means to me - driving different vehicles in different situations," Busch said. "Kyle came to me and asked for my help this weekend. It comes from my heart to be able to do this, and I'm thankful for the opportunity with his team. It's been 11 years since I've been in a truck, but hopefully, it will be like riding a bike."
Busch and Brad Keselowski are those Sprint Cup regulars competing in this race. Keselowski, who hails from nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., is driving his own No. 29 RAM. Parker Kligerman was relieved of his driving duties with the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing team as of last week, but Kligerman has since secured a ride with Red Horse Racing in its No. 7 Toyota.
"When you look at Truck Series teams right now, there's no doubt Red Horse Racing is definitely one of the top organizations," Kligerman said. "I feel like Red Horse gives you the best equipment they can, and at the end of the day, that's all you look for as a driver, the actual chance to win, not just the trophy. So it's our job now to go out there and get the trophy, and I feel like this is a place I can do that."
This will be the first time the Truck Series runs on the newly repaved surface at Michigan. Busch and Keselowski will have an advantage over the other truck drivers, since they competed in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races there in June.
"I think that having raced in both the Nationwide Series and the Cup race in June will give me an advantage early on, but those guys will catch up to us," Busch said. "We will have to keep working hard throughout the three practice sessions to find speed in the truck and then be able keep the speed in it that will allow us to compete for a victory in the race."
Timothy Peters comes to Michigan with an eight-point lead over rookie Ty Dillon, while James Buescher, who is the only repeat race winner this season, is 15 points behind. Justin Lofton trails Peters by 18 markers.
After claiming his first truck win two weeks ago at Pocono, Joey Coulter moved to within 49 points of the lead. Coulter's maiden win in the series came in his 36th start.
"I feel like the monkey is off my back, and I'm ready to go get the next win," he said. "Everyone said once you win the first race, the next ones are easier. I'm ready to make a charge for the championship by collecting a couple more wins."
Thirty-five teams are on the preliminary entry list for the VFW 200.
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck. Date: Saturday, August 18. Race: VFW 200. Site: Michigan International Speedway. Track: two-mile oval. Start time: 12:30 p.m. (et). Laps: 100. Miles: 200. 2011 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.