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Busch Ready for Talladega

In his young career, Kyle Busch has made two NASCAR Busch Series starts at the Talladega Superspeedway—with two very different results.

In April of his 2004 rookie season, Busch started 13th and worked his way into a top-five performance, finishing fourth at the 2.66-mile high-banked tri-oval. The tables were turned last season, as he qualified eighth, but posted a disappointing 40th-place run due to a Lap 16 accident.

“My first time at Talladega was in 2003 when I won the pole in the ARCA Series, but wrecked in the race,” Busch said.  “In fact, I’ve only been running at the end of one Talladega race that I’ve started—my first Busch Series run there.

“Wrecking at Talladega isn’t fun at all because you really don’t know how many times you’ll get hit before it’s all over. Everyone is right on top of each other, so you just tuck yourself into a fetal position and wait for the noise to stop. I just don’t want to wreck this time, but it’s hard to ask everyone to be perfect for every lap.”

Even though the youngster’s relationship with Talladega has been tenuous, Busch is looking forward to Saturday’s Busch Series race.  He knows his team has worked hard to build him a good car and, more importantly, that he has a shot to win.

“Hendrick Motorsports has an incredible engine and chassis shop and it’s the bread and butter to those guys because they live to be the best on the superspeedways,” Busch said. “We should be one of the better cars out there because our speedway program is really good. I just hope to qualify up front and stay up there.”

Crew chief Chad Walter has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 379 as the team’s primary option for Saturday’s event. Although it has never seen racing action, this No. 5 Lowe’s/Spectracide Chevrolet posted some of the best wind-tunnel results of any superspeedway car the team has ever produced.

“We’re taking a brand new car so we’ll need a few runs in qualifying trim to be sure all the fenders are clear and there aren’t any problems, but this car should be awesome,” Walter said.  “If we can avoid accidents and stay up front, we should be all right.

“I thought we had a great package at Daytona, but the race didn’t go our way. We’re determined to get a good finish at Talladega to make up for it.”

Even with a heavily damaged No. 5 Chevrolet, Busch rallied to bring home an improbable 11th-place finish in Friday night’s Busch Series race at Phoenix. Beginning at Lap 120, the Lowe’s Racing crew reeled off five consecutive pit stops, but still managed to stay on the lead lap and pick up one position in the championship standings.

“Last weekend at Phoenix was a testament to how strong the Busch program is,” Busch said.  “We wrecked the car pretty bad, fixed it and never lost a lap. We finished 11th with a heavily damaged car and my guys never gave up.”

Busch and his No. 5 Lowe’s Racing team have improved their position in the championship standings after three of the past four Busch Series events, moving from 18th following the March 18 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway to eighth. But now the focus is on Talladega, where the team will have a drafting partner with a nearly identical car.

Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers, the 2003 Busch Series champion, will also be in the field, driving a No. 57 Ore-Ida Chevy.

“This is a ‘sister car’ to the one Brian and the No. 57 team will take this weekend, so the two are almost identical,” Walter said.  “With regard to the car, you need two things—a good body and good horsepower—and Hendrick Motorsports has them both. The trick is whether or not you have drafting partners.

“Luckily, we’ll have Brian to hook up with and race to the front.”