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Veteran Kyle Busch Advocates For Young Gun Control

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 23 2018

Veteran driver Kyle Busch thinks that younger drivers are getting too much press. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Several recent marketing campaigns focus on the young drivers entering the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and that bothers 32-year-old Kyle Busch.

We’ve paid our dues, and our sponsors have and everything else, and all you’re doing is advertising all these younger guys for fans to figure out and pick up on and choose as their favorite driver. I think it’s stupid,” Busch said Tuesday during the NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I guess one thing that can be said is probably the younger guys are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that and have families, things like that, and want to spend as much time as we can at home. You know, maybe that’s some of it. But … some of these marketing campaigns and things like that pushing these younger drivers is, I wouldn’t say, all that fair.”

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Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton said Tuesday it would benefit the series to venture to some different facilities, especially more short tracks and road courses.

“There are so many race tracks we could have a good time at and put on one heck of a show, and I guarantee you so many people would come because it’s a new venue,” Crafton said. “They don’t need to just keep going to the same track.  If you eat the same box of cereal every day you kind of get burned out on it.  You throw a different box in there and everybody wants to try it.”

Crafton noted the truck series’ largest crowd last year was at a road course.

“We need another road course; maybe another dirt track,” Crafton said. “Take us to some short tracks and not just all the mile-and-a-halves. There are so many short tracks that we used to race at.”

The short tracks that hosted the truck series in its early years now face two monumental issues in staging such an event. Both are financial. First, SAFER barriers must be installed, and second, NASCAR’s sanctioning fees have risen substantially.

“I know NASCAR is in a tough box,” Crafton said.  

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Kurt Busch’s veteran crew chief Tony Gibson stepped away from the pit box with the conclusion of the 2017 season and the Las Vegas native said Tuesday he had worked with new crew chief Billy Scott in the off-season to develop a new strategy.

“He has a fresh outlook on everything,” Busch said. “If you question him on something, Gibson always had a quick answer. ‘Nope, we aren’t doing that.’ (or) ‘Yep, that’s right.’ Billy likes to say, ‘Let me think about that.’ I like to get his wheels turning and he gets my wheels turning on a lot of topics. It is a fresh outlook on how to communicate. I like his ability to read all the crew members and also the infrastructure at Stewart-Haas Racing.”

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Erik Jones doesn’t see himself competing in many races outside of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year. He notes there are only three late model races in which he could compete this year due to his schedule.

“I didn’t run many late model races last year,” Jones said. “I think I only ran one. Beyond that, XFINITY-wise, I don’t think I’ll be running very much. We’ve got two full-time drivers there, one part-time car. I know one guy is going to max out his races, and I know one guy is going to run two others, and Ryan Preece, obviously, has to run his races, as well. That really limits my schedule there, which is fine. I think focusing on the Cup Series is pretty important to me. But I’m sure there will be some along the way, late model and XFINITY, I’ll be running.”

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Driving for a single-car team doesn’t bother Matt DiBenedetto. In fact, he likes it because everyone focuses on his car and there is no breakdown in communication.

 “It’s not that you’re selfish, but everyone has their focus solely on your car, your deal and how to improve the team,” DiBenedetto said about Go FAS Racing. “And having such a small organization, if we need to implement a change or we find something that can make our race cars better, it’s not like we have to go through a whole implement of four cars or a whole laundry list of people and get it all approved. Some of the good things about a smaller team is communication doesn’t really get lost.  It’s pretty easy when you only have 16 people in your whole organization.”

DiBenedetto said his team, owned by Archie St. Hilaire, doesn’t have an alliance with the Wood Brothers, just a partnership with them and the old No. 32 team charter.

“We don’t get any more resources, technology, nothing out of it,” DiBenedetto said. “I don’t want people to think we’re getting Penske equipment or something. We’re not. We’re the same exact operation as we were last year.”

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Kurt Busch is expanding his business horizons, signing with some different agencies in the off-season.

I am just trying to learn more about the whole product that happens with racing and that is to work with guys like Fox or NBC,” Busch said. “This next week I will be out at SuperCross doing guest commentary in the booth and I will be out at the X Games as well with ESPN out in Aspen, Colo. That is where Lou Oppenheim at ICM has helped me learn more about the TV side and what could be on the horizon. I am just trying to move forward and learn all I can.”

Busch said it would be incorrect to assume this might be his last season.

“There are many balls in the air, but you have to be smart this day in age and you can’t just have one plan because things change quickly. I like to have options and that is an option for me.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 23 2018
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