By the Numbers : Kyle Busch's wins per track
With Kyle Busch 's win Saturday night at Kansas Speedway -- long a place where he has struggled over the years -- 'Rowdy' checked another track off his all-time list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series conquests. The GoBowling 400 victory, along with his win at Martinsville earlier this year, leaves only Charlotte Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway as unchecked tracks on the list. And Busch still visits each facility twice this season, starting at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. Below is a list of Busch's starts and wins at every active track on the Sprint Cup circuit.
Joe Gibbs Racing enjoying the view from the top
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Championships are nothing new for Joe Gibbs Racing . The organization won three premier series titles during a six-year stretch with drivers Bobby Labonte (2000) and Tony Stewart (2002, '05). But domination? Now, that's something different. "It's one of those deals where you pinch yourself to try and find out if it's real," said Jimmy Makar, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the four-team outfit on Tuesday. Makar, along with driver Kyle Busch and other team principals, was on hand at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to unveil the No. 18 team's throwback paint scheme for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The look harkens back to 1993, when driver Dale Jarrett earned the organization its first win with a victory in the Daytona 500 . But while the focus was on the past, the present couldn't be ignored. JGR folks tread lightly around the subject. But the numbers say what officials won't -- that since the midpoint of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season, no organization has been as consistent or as successful as Joe Gibbs Racing . The four-team effort with drivers Busch, Denny Hamlin , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth won 11 of the final 21 races of the '15 season, a year that ended with Busch claiming the championship. Through this year's first 12 races, those drivers already have won seven times, including six of the last seven. As a result, all four drivers are all but guaranteed a spot in this year's 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup . It's no overnight success story, Busch said, noting that the organization didn't sit idle in early 2013 while engine supplier Toyota Racing Development (TRD) sorted though various engine issues. "We worked on our cars, we worked on our setups, we worked on driver-crew chief communications," he said. "We worked on all that stuff to get our cars better. And when the engines came, then it was all there. We had the total package. "I feel like we've been able to take advantage of all that the last couple of years, of having all the right pieces in place." The 2013 season was the first that TRD began supplying engines to JGR teams. That was also when Kenseth came on board, winning seven times during his debut season in the No. 20 Toyota. Edwards won twice in '15 after the Mooresville, N.C.-based organization expanded to four teams with the addition of the No. 19 entry. For the better part of the past decade, it has been Hendrick Motorsports setting the standard among NASCAR's competitors. So it's not surprising that both Makar and Busch referenced HMS on Tuesday when talk of domination surfaced. "You think about their runs that they have had over the years and how we've always tried to get like that," Makar said. "Here we find ourselves in not exactly the same position but something where we seem to be on top of our game right now and people chasing us. It's kind of fun." Busch was a part of the HMS program while it was the leader of the pack, earning the first four of his 37 career victories with Hendrick. "This sport goes in cycles," Busch said. "Hendrick was on top for a long, long time. I don't want to hear about complaining that we're on top and dominating and bad for the sport because I remember years that Hendrick won 12, 13, 14 races, whatever it was. And they won seven out of eight championships or something like that." Having top-shelf parts and pieces and some of the most talented drivers isn't always a recipe for success. The difference today at JGR, it seems, is the willingness among the four teams to share information as well as opinions. Each driver has a distinct personality, from fiery to subdued, as well as a different approach to racing. "But the thing of it is, they work so well together," Makar said. "That's the one common thing that we've got going on -- they share information with each other, they don't hide things. " The crew chiefs do the same thing. We try to emphasize that. Sometimes you can talk about it all day long but if the guys don't want to do it, it doesn't work." How long will it last? How long can it last? "You always think about, when you're on top, what's it going to take to stay there," Makar said. "It's the hardest thing in the world to stay on top once you get there. Everybody's working even harder to try and beat you. You have to make sure you don't get any sense of overconfidence and quit pushing the limits … that's the only thing you worry about, is if complacency sets in. "Other than that, it's what more can we find? How can we get faster and better, make our cars better and compete better? That's what we do every day … whether you're running 10th every week or first. The whole goal is to get better as a team. Make our race teams better from the inside and keep trying to push ourselves to be better." Gibbs, a Super Bowl-winning coach as well as a championship-winning car owner, perhaps understands the pitfalls better than most. That, and the drive to be on top. "If you get to thinking you're pretty good, that goes against you," he said. "It takes hard work. The other teams are looking at you and they're coming. … There are so many cars that are strong right now." Kenseth's win at Dover on Sunday, he said, was a perfect example of the level of competition. An exciting battle between the veteran and youngster Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing ) left the final outcome in question in the final laps. "It came down at the end there, we're (side- by -side) with the 42. Who's going to win? The 42 or us?" Gibbs said. "I do think that's what is exciting about our sport. People love that. It's the greatest reality show in the world because we don't know what’s going to happen." Busch doesn't know what the summer months will bring, but he's confident that the JGR group "is the strongest one." "I say that because I think Toyota is the best manufacturer in the sport," he said. "I feel like all four drivers are probably among the best six or seven drivers in the sport, and we're all on the same team working together. … You've got Joe, who is one of the best bosses in the sport, who pushes all of us, is a real people guy and he knows about putting the right people in the right places. "Then too, the things that we all do to work together, not hide anything, share anything we possibly can." These days, that includes trips to Victory Lane. Editor's note : Table shows victories by organization from the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 through Sunday's AAA 400 (does not include non-points events).
Larson on winning: 'I want to do it the right way'
Two days after the fact, Kyle Larson didn't sound as if he looked back on his latest runner-up finish with any regrets. Disappointed, sure, but regretting nothing about how he handled the closing laps of Sunday's AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway Second for a fourth time in his still-blossoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver was unable to overtake Matt Kenseth in the waning laps, eventually stopping his No. 42 Chevrolet on pit road instead of victory lane. The "should he or shouldn't he" question was inevitable. Contact with Kenseth might have made Larson a winner for the first time since stepping up to the premier series in 2013. But it was a price the 23-year-old said he wasn't willing to pay. "I felt like I did everything I could do to get by him without getting into him," Larson said during a break in Tuesday's Goodyear tire test at Michigan International Speedway . "I've always felt like Matt's raced me with a ton of respect so I wanted to do my part, racing him with a lot of respect as well. It was a fun battle. … "I did have a couple of chances to get into him but that's not really how I want to win my first one. I want to do it the right way. I don't regret it; maybe it could come back to haunt me, but you never know." CGR fields two Sprint Cup teams, the No. 42 for Larson and the No. 1 for teammate Jamie McMurray , a seven-time winner in the series. From a statistical standpoint, the Dover finish was the closest yet for Larson, who trailed the Joe Gibbs Racing winner by .187 seconds at the line. Two years ago, it was Kyle Busch throwing a final-lap block at Auto Club Speedway that foiled Larson's advances. Later that season, it was Joey Logano driving away on a green-white-checkered finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Again in '14, this time at Kansas in The Chase, Larson was unable to reel in Logano during a final 26-lap green-flag run. Others have weathered similar storms: Kasey Kahne finished second six times before his first Sprint Cup win and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott was a bridesmaid eight times before winning. The record for near-misses before victory belongs to former driver Lennie Pond, who was second on 12 occasions. Tabbed as a can't-miss prospect by veterans such as three-time champion Tony Stewart , Larson scored eight top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes during his rookie season -- more than several of those who finished ahead of him in the points battle. But '15 wasn't as kind, his numbers dropped and even through the beginning of the current season his results seemed to lag. More recent efforts, however, have been encouraging. "Our cars just haven't been quite as fast as they were in 2014," Larson said. "We'd kind of fallen behind a little bit on building the bodies the way they need to be and maybe chassis stuff a little bit. But we brought in some smart people over the offseason." The addition of crew chief Chad Johnston and engineer Phil Surgen "has really brought a lot of influence to (both) our race teams," he said. Larson heads into Friday night's Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7:10 p.m. ET, FS1) as one of the favorites to earn one of the transfer spots into Saturday's annual Sprint All-Star Race. "I definitely feel like I'm a smarter racer now, a better race car driver," he said. "I feel like over the last several years I've kept that same aggressiveness, but gotten my patience a little bit better. "To be a championship driver, I think you have to put the whole package together and patience is a big part of that."
Who will go the distance at Charlotte?
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice talk about the challenges of 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway and who they think will be able to go the distance in the Coca-Cola 600.
Larson on falling short: 'I'm used to it by now'
Kyle Larson talks after a coming up short of a victory in the Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Daytona Rising by the numbers
NASCAR Race Hub’s Adam Alexander and Danielle Trotta take you inside the numbers of the historic Daytona Rising project.
Bruce: Honor the unfamiliar names on Sprint Cup windshields
RELATED: Learn about the troops being honored this weekend CONCORD, N.C. -- For the second consecutive year, the names displayed across the windshields of the cars that will take the green flag in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) will be unfamiliar to most race fans. Gone are the names of Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski and Kenseth emblazoned across the tops of the vehicles. There is no Stewart, Busch or Logano. They have been replaced on this Memorial Day weekend with the names of Lynch, Taylor, Massarelli and Miranda. Carter, Jablonsky, Ramseyer and Gonzales. It's a long list. It's too long of a list. Including grand marshal vehicles and two pace cars, 44 of the vehicles here at Charlotte Motor Speedway will carry the names of fallen members of the United States military. Army. Navy. Marines. Air Force. Pilot. Gunner. Seal. Ranger. Their ranks varied. Their job did not. They were soldiers. They made the ultimate sacrifice. It's 600 Miles of Remembrance in the eyes of the NASCAR community. It's a lifetime of memories to those who knew them. RELATED: Every car in the field, plus fallen military member's name NASCAR officials worked with the Honor and Remember organization to pair fallen servicemen and women and their families with teams where no direct affiliations existed. But most of those we honor today at CMS had ties to NASCAR, through relationships with drivers or crewmen, sponsors or owners. Graham Molatch, the jack man for Chip Ganassi Racing 's No. 42 Chevrolet with driver Kyle Larson , is a former Navy Seal. Larson's car carries the name of fellow Seal Denis Miranda. The two were roommates serving in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2010 when Miranda died in a helicopter crash. "Denis was just a great person and I'm really, really honored to have a chance to have (him) on our car," Molatch said Saturday at CMS. "It means a lot to me. I think it means a lot to the guys on the team that we get to support Denis' name and his family. … "They should be acknowledged more than just once a year but it is great … to display their names. It's an honor for me personally, and a great honor for his family." Jimmy Woolard was a childhood friend of team co-owner Jack Roush. Woolard, whose name is carried on the No. 17 Ford of driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . this weekend, was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Master Sergeant Paul Karpowich was a family friend of Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet for driver Tony Stewart . PFC John Borbonus was a classmate of driver Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) in Boise, Idaho. There are others. Too many others. Their photos are strikingly similar, most showing vibrant, smiling faces, full of life. Some were on their first mission; many had been a part of multiple deployments. There are those who left behind wives and young children. For others, family life would have come later. Later never arrived. There are those who left behind mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. We honor them today every bit as much as we do those who are no longer with us. You may not recognize their names. But you should know why those names are there. It's the very least we can do.
The Climb: Who will conquer 600 miles?
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice give you their picks on who they think will win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Relive the first Drive for Diversity pit crew combine
Following a national talent search, 18 multicultural and female athletes earned invitations to compete in the first-ever national NASCAR Drive For Diversity® (D4D) Crew Member Development Combine May 27 in Concord, North Carolina. Relive the day in tweets. What's the #NASCARD4D pit-crew member combine? Learn all about what's happening today: https://t.co/f6rpATsS3f pic.twitter.com/dTXIyO0fe2 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 27, 2016 . @VSUTrojans bball player Kasuela Cooper talking to @myfox8 at the @NASCAR National Pit Crew Combine! #NASCARD4D pic.twitter.com/9zR3j5FFPt — Rev Racing (@RevRacin) May 27, 2016 Supporting the participants at the pit crew combine @NASCARDiversity #NASCARD4D #revracing pic.twitter.com/1rXy00SgcB — Collin Cabre (@CollinCabre12) May 27, 2016 #NASCARD4D Alum, now @roushfenway Jackman, @NascarQB giving tips to prospects pic.twitter.com/HCAXTjXeyQ — Brandon Thompson (@BThompson_36) May 27, 2016 THREE Spartans are representing at the #NASCARD4D combine! pic.twitter.com/RBQUL1bbil — NSU Strength (@NSU_Strength) May 27, 2016 more than thankful to be apart of this. tune in to our press conference at 3:45pm https://t.co/oHchQPF9pc #NASCARD4D pic.twitter.com/r2VT5u2pRB — Bree〽ich (@Mindless_BMD) May 26, 2016 Met the National Pit Crew Combine folks #NASCARD4D Cool group..showed them the @SiriusXMNASCAR at track studio!! pic.twitter.com/FBC586HjAm — Claire B Lang (@ClaireBLang) May 26, 2016
Can a return home to Dover stop the Truex hex?
Martin Truex Jr. has been plagued by bad luck in 2016, but could the coincidence of Friday the 13th being the Dover race weekend, site of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, be just what the No. 78 team needs to break into Victory Lane?