His hometown track didn’t work any magic for Kyle Busch.
Perhaps his most successful one can.
Busch is off to a bumpy start this season and a disappointing weekend at Las Vegas only added to his woes. He qualified second-fastest but wrecked his primary car during practice and then hit the wall in the race while driving his backup, finishing 23rd.
He enters today’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway 12th in points, with one top-10 finish — a sixth at Phoenix.
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While Bristol might not be home like Vegas, he is certainly very familiar with Victory Lane.
In 14 Cup starts at the fast, half-mile concrete oval, Busch has five wins — the most on any track in the series. He has finished outside the top 10 four times.
Why so comfortable at Bristol?
“Ever since I got through my rookie year, I’ve just taken a liking to the place. Of course, I’ve been able to get some help from my brother (Kurt). He’s always been really, really good there,” Kyle said. “When they changed the track to this current surface, I just really took to it right away.
“You really have to be on your game because you make one mistake, or someone else makes one mistake — that’s it.”
In reality, Busch hasn’t had to deal with many mistakes at Bristol. After his first two visits to the track — when he finished 28th and 33rd — he has never finished worse than 17th.
Three times, Busch has led more than half of the race’s 500 laps.
Yet even someone so dominant has had to adjust.
“My driving style has changed at Bristol — a lot. Bristol used to be a track where you could charge the corners a little bit and get it right in and down to the bottom of the track,” he said. “You kind of would go through the middle of the corner and then slingshot out on the exits.
“Now, it’s just so smooth that you’re easy in, you’re kind of easy through the center, and easy off (the corners). The track is a little slower than I think it was because they reduced some banking in order to put sort of the progressive banking into it to make the outside groove better.”
A win or good performance at Bristol can quickly turn things around.
In fact, it happened last season.
Busch entered Bristol fresh off a 38th-place finish at Las Vegas and was 14th in points. He left Bristol with a win — well on his way to a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup and four-win season.
Regardless of the situation, Busch won’t stray from what has gotten him this far.
“You do have to keep conscious of not putting yourself in bad positions or wrecking out and finishing back in the 20s or 30s,” Busch said.
“Small mistakes can become much bigger very fast at Bristol.”