Winner Statistics: Kyle Busch wins at Infineon Raceway

kyle bush celebrates vicotry of save mart 350 at infineon racewayThe weekend did not start off promising for the #18 M&Ms team. Right off the truck the team struggled to get Kyle’s Toyota handling well.

“We unloaded here this weekend and we were absolutely horrible,” Busch said in his post-race press conference. “We were so bad we didn’t know what was going on. These guys worked their tails off and never gave up. We worked on it and worked on it – made changes to everything – and finally figured it out. I have to thank AP Brakes, MAC Tools, M&M’s, Snickers, Interstate Batteries, NOS Energy Drink and everybody that’s helped us here. For Toyota to win here at their home race, that’s pretty special, too.”

Special indeed. Kyle actually had to qualify the car twice. It was discovered that an official failed to remove some NASCAR mandated tape that covers the cowl induction area of the hood before the team’s qualifying attempt. NASCAR apparently requires the tape to be placed over the cowl until the cars are set to go out for qualifying. This practice is done in an effort to prevent cheating (or sabotage) via insertion of foreign object into the cowl. With the tape covering the cowl induction area, precious air was blocked from getting into the engine, thus horsepower was reduced. Once discovered, the team was permitted fresh tires, time to cool the engine, and a second attempt at qualifying.

Interesting to me is that before the race there seemed to be a feeling that Kyle would not do well on the road course. I honestly didn’t understand this. True, I myself did have him in my “Chumps” pick for Champs, Chumps & Sleepers. However, my decision was based not on past results, but rather on events leading up to the race. First, a poor qualifying position on a road course. Second, the team struggled with the setup. And third, Kyle’s reported sour mood (as well as his disgusted look on television). I just didn’t think those ingredients would combine to result in a good finish. WRONG! It took him only 33 laps to reach P1 on the scoring tower. From there he led all but 2 of the remaining 80 laps of the race. OK, so I guess the FBI’s BAU will not be needing my services.

In the end, Kyle’s win really shouldn’t surprise us. He has had success on the road courses, including a win this past April in the Nationwide Series road course race in Mexico. Even limiting his road course history to Cup series racing (which is 3 years) he has had good finishes at both Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen. Only in his rookie year did he post unfavorable results.

Infineon Raceway:
2005 = 40th (Rookie year)
2006 = 11th
2007 = 8th
2008 = 1st

Watkin Glen:
2005 = 33rd (Rookie year)
2006 = 9th
2007 = 7th

So congratulations (again) to the entire Joe Gibbs #18 team. Here are some post-race loop data statistics for Kyle’s run to the checkers at Infineon Raceway.

  • Starting Position = 30th
  • Mid Race Position = 1st
  • 11 Laps to Go = 1st
  • Lowest Position = 32nd
  • Average Position = 6th
  • # of Fastest Laps = 26 (best of all drivers)
  • Laps in Top 15 = 90
  • % of Laps in Top 15 = 80.4%
  • Laps Led = 78, or 69.6% (best of all drivers)
  • Final Driver Rating = 147.6 (best of all drivers)