Busch: Driving In F1, At Indy Would Be Welcome

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, March 11 2019
Kyle Busch looking to shed his fenders? (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

The day after … Phoenix and St. Pete.

After winning for the 199th time in NASCAR, Kyle Busch hung out the “Position Wanted” sign. And team owner Joe Gibbs must have been sent digging through his pockets looking for a pain reliever by Busch’s words.

That 199th win came at ISM Raceway near Phoenix on Sunday. And it came in a NASCAR Cup Series car.

With a milestone 200th win in one of NASCAR top three series probably just days away, Busch was asked about future challenges. Specifically, he was asked if he would like to run in the Indianapolis 500 like his brother Kurt had done a couple years back.

The answer to that surprised basically nobody.

“If I could ever get a chance to go do it, I would certainly welcome it, try to,” Busch, who also won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at ISM, said. “All the naysayers would say he can’t win on Sunday.  I’ve won 52 times on Sunday.”

Busch then set his sights even higher.

“If there’s one form of motorsports that’s any higher worldwide than us is Formula 1,” the 33-year-old Busch said. “Nobody calling me to put me in a Formula 1 car.  I guess I’m stuck where I’m at.  Love it or hate it, you got what you got with me being here.

“Indy 500, Formula 1 cars, off-road trucks, things like that, I’d love to get my fair share in any of those.”

Busch recently signed a new contract with Gibbs.

After he did, he said, “My relationship with Joe, (Gibbs), JD (Gibbs) and the family has grown a lot of the years and each year I think it gets better and better. With the time I have been there and talking to them in the middle of 2007, and then being a driver with them since 2008 has meant the most to my career. It’s been a lot of Joe. A lot of the team members at Joe Gibbs Racing as well. The engineers and guys who are familiar faces love it there just as much as I do, and do not go anywhere.”

Still, dangling his availability for an Indy 500 ride could not have left Gibbs feeling all that wonderful.

So, 199 wins. That means 199 trophies. Busch was asked where he keeps them all.

“I did have to build a house” in which to store the trophies, he said.  “It’s a 77,000 square foot building in Mooresville, North Carolina, that houses Kyle Busch Motorsports and houses 199, plus all of the KBM driver trophies and stuff like that.  We have gotten our fair share of trophy cases we’ve gone through.  Every time we build a new one, we fill it up.  It’s a good problem to have.

“There’s actually a few trophies in a few people’s offices.  A couple of them sitting on the floor.  They’re all over the place.”

Team Penske’s domination ended in the Cup Series on Sunday but down in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Captain’s troops carved out a victory on a different battlefield.

On Saturday, Penske driver Will Power won the pole for the season-opening IndyCar Series event. On Sunday, teammate Josef Newgarden drove to victory in the on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street course that incorporates a runway of Albert Whitted Airport.

This season, 12 of the series 17 races will be held at street or road courses. After his victory, Newgarden said Team Penske’s priority in the recent offseason was to concentrate on the twisties.

“We’ve started on the right foot, for sure,” he said. “I think we made a big step. We felt positive about the step that we made, so I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year. At street courses I think we feel better on. We’ve got to convert that to road courses now at COTA and then obviously, Indianapolis is going to be a priority. Let’s see where we’re at a little later on in the year.”

The St. Pete race featured the series debut by a host of new drivers. Among them were a couple of high profile Swedes.

One of those Swedes – Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing – finished fourth in his first race in an Indy car cockpit.

A bold move heading into Turn 1 on Lap 1 was a highlight.

“Top five is for sure satisfying,” he said. “I think there was a bit more in it. I think some pit stops there didn’t really go as planned, but the NTT Data Honda was really good today. I think it was a good enough package to win the race. Just some small things didn’t go our way, but I’m really happy to be up here. I really have to thank my team, Chip Ganassi Racing, for starting off the season better than anyone could have expected.”

A second Swede – Marcus Ericsson – didn’t fare quite as well. The former Formula 1 driver suffered mechanical failure and finished 20th in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.

“It was a great race up until the end,” he said. “We started quite far back, farther back than what we think we should’ve started. It was going well and we were well inside the top 10 when we had the problem (mechanical issue). Looking at what’s happening now, we were definitely going for a top eight in the Arrow car. It was just a shame because it was a really great race up until then.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, March 11 2019
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