Saturday, March 7, 2009

Get Ready For Kyle Busch: The Sequel -- Better Than 2008?

By Jerry Bonkowski
The Sports Xchange

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Where have we seen this movie before?

You know the story: Kyle Busch wins one race, then another and then another and another and ... well, you get the idea.

The younger Busch brother won 21 races last season, 10 in the Nationwide Series, three in the Truck Series and, of course, eight in the Sprint Cup Series.

For the better part of the 26-race "regular season" -- in other words, the run-up to the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup -- Busch looked unbeatable, a cinch to run away with the championship.

Unfortunately for the Las Vegas native, it didn't work out that way at all. His last Cup win was in mid-August on the road course at Watkins Glen, and by the time the Chase was over, he had finished a disappointing 10th in the final standings.

Now it's time for "Kyle Busch: The Sequel."

Or, as the old Herman's Hermits song, "Henry the VIII," goes, "Second verse, same as the first."

And what a start it has been already. Busch won the Sprint Cup event last week in his hometown. In the Nationwide Series, he has a win and a fourth-place finish in the first three races. And in the Trucks Series, he won Saturday for the second time this season and was runner-up in the other event.

"Winning races and finishing up front and placing well is what my job is to do," Busch said. "It's nice to have guys that respect what you do out there, and I respect what they do out there and to have them talk nice and stuff is cool. I'm not sure if they're just trying to get into my head so then later on they can do something else or what."

Busch has already conquered Atlanta Motor Speedway, which plays host to Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 Sprint Cup event, five times. At what is considered the fastest track in NASCAR, he has four truck wins and also won last spring's Sprint Cup race on the 1.5-mile layout.

But the KyBusch of this season seems much different than the KyBusch of 2008. Early last year, Busch bragged that he could win all three championships -- Cup, Nationwide and Trucks.

In the end, he won none.

That's why it's not surprising to see him with a much more reserved attitude in 2009. Even though he's already won four races overall, he's not tooting his own horn by any stretch of the imagination.

For example, when he was asked Friday if he thought he was ready to start a hot streak, he quickly demurred.

"I don't think so," Busch said. "Every race is different and every weekend's different, so we just keep doing what we do and hopefully we can keep winning races.

"If it's a hot streak then it's a hot streak -- if that's what you want to call it -- but to me it's just supposed to be what it's supposed to be and that's to run your best every weekend and if wins are coming then that's what's supposed to happen."

With his win at Las Vegas worth a 12-spot jump in the points, Busch comes into Atlanta sixth in the Cup standings and leading his two chief rivals. He's three spots ahead of Carl Edwards and 13 spots ahead of three-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson.

"For Edwards and Johnson to be off a little bit -- you can have that," Busch said. "We were off last year, unfortunately, in the final 10 races. What does it matter that they're off in the first 26? They will probably hit their stride in the final 10. Hopefully it's not a flip-flop of our season running good in the first 10 and not in the final 10."

So, with three wins already in the books and 18 left to tie last year's overall record, Busch is back doing what he does best: winning. And if he sets a few records along the way, so be it. But getting that checkered flag has been, is and always will be No. 1 for this budding superstar.

"It's not that (records aren't) important, it's just neat that I've got the opportunity to keep filling them up with my name," Busch said. "That's not my priority, to put my name in the record books, but with everything that I do it seems like I get my name in there.

"We're hitting two birds with one stone -- we're winning races, which is what we're supposed to be doing and what we're concentrating on doing, but we're still filling up the record books, which is always good."

At the rate Busch is going, NASCAR eventually might have to create a whole library of record books dedicated solely to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Leave Your Comment Here:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.