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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 8/16/2014

MIS NOTEBOOK

MIS notebook: Busch, Toyota rolling along

Partnership reaches 500 starts in today’s trucks race

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BROOKLYN, Mich — Kyle Busch isn’t making a big deal about his 500th start in a Toyota. Busch will attempt to qualify in the Camping World Truck Series Careers for Veterans 200, which begins at 12:30 p.m. today at Michigan International Speedway.

“It just means I’ve been running in too many races,” Busch said of the milestone. “But I’m excited about it. There’s been a lot of success in between those 500 starts, and yet some heartache, too. It’s exciting to have as many wins as I do across all three series of NASCAR.”

Busch drove for five seasons in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports (2003-2007) and joined Joe Gibbs Racing prior to the 2008 season. Since then, Busch has driven in all three NASCAR series in a Toyota.

Busch, 27, earned his first Sprint Cup win in a Toyota in March of 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and has 114 wins in a Toyota on the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck circuits.

“The first Sprint Cup series win for myself at Joe Gibbs Racing as well as for Toyota at Atlanta was a big one,” Busch said. “My first win at Las Vegas, with it being my home track and watching that place being built and then winning the Nationwide championship in 2009, too.”

Busch began Kyle Busch Motorsports for the 2010 season and fielded both a Camping World Truck Series team and a Nationwide team until last season due to lack of funding. This year, Kyle Busch Motorsports focuses solely on its trucks team.

Busch and Bubba Wallace will drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports in today’s Careers For Veterans 200 and has won two owner’s championships in less than five years in the Camping World Trucks Series.

“A huge part of what Toyota does is help Kyle Busch Motorsports stay alive and be successful,” Busch said. 

“All of that hard work and dedication and financial support that we receive has gone to good use, especially this year.”

NEW-LOOK TRUCKS: Chad Little, managing director of the Camping World Trucks Series, explained that a body change was implemented on the trucks at the start of the season, one that involves new front ends and new hoods on the vehicles that will race today.

“It had been six years since the previous update,” Little said. “Manufacturers approached us a couple years ago and started talking about a change and asked, ‘is it time to bring some more identity to the Truck Series and make it more similar to what people see on the street?”

Little said feedback on the changes have, for the most part, been positive this season, but that there’s also been an uptick in green-flag passes and passes for the lead after the last Trucks race at Pocono Raceway.

“We get feedback every single race and for the most part, it’s been positive,” Little said. “It’s expensive to make a change, and we have to balance that with competition and how it fits with the strategy of the series. As the year unfolds, we’ll see a lot of benefits from the new body style.

“Driver comments have been mixed, but for the most part they’ve accepted it. But they like the fact that it looks like what you’d see on the street.”

TRUEX ABSENT FROM QUALIFYING: Martin Truex, Jr., did not drive in Friday’s Sprint Cup practice or qualifying sessions after his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, was diagnosed earlier this week with ovarian cancer.

Matt Crafton, who is entered in today’s Careers for Veterans 200, drove in place of Truex in the No. 78 Chevrolet, which had a teal ribbon decal attached to it in honor of Pollex, who underwent surgery on Friday.

BACK ON TRACK: Five days after winning the Cheez-It 355 on Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, AJ Allmendinger discussed his NASCAR-issued suspension two years ago after he failed a random drug test.

“It gave me time away from racing, which I’ve never had, just to figure out if I even wanted to race anymore,” Allmendinger said. “Then I realized racing wasn’t making me happy, anyways, so what was it? What did I have to do just to be happier out of the race car?”

Allmendinger pieced together a 2013 racing slate that included NASCAR and IndyCar starts, and currently drives for JTG Daugherty Racing. He faced a bigger picture during his time off.

“The whole time really wasn’t about trying to get back to NASCAR,” Allmendinger said. “I was going to do whatever it took at that point, but everything else was just trying to get myself better. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

CONTEST TIME: Fans can visit NASCAR.com/​ChaseGridLive to enter the Chase Grid Live Sweepstakes. The grand prize package includes an all-inclusive trip to Chicago for a VIP experience at Chase Grid Live, two VIP access passes to all three national series races at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., a ride in the Toyota Camry Grand Marshal car before the Sept. 14 Sprint Cup race, and $1,000 spending money. Fans can enter the Chase Grid Live sweepstakes through August 29.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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