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Busch aiming for unprecedented NASCAR top-three sweep

Kyle Busch climbs out of his car after qualifying for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Pocono, Pa. Hours later he was racing trucks in Fort Worth, Texas.

Associated Press

Kyle Busch climbs out of his car after qualifying for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Pocono, Pa. Hours later he was racing trucks in Fort Worth, Texas.

There simply is no substitute for being 23 and invincible.

Ask Kyle Busch. The Sprint Cup leader in wins (four) and points (142 ahead of second-place Jeff Burton) has 10 victories this season in NASCAR's top three series. And though the venues for the Cup, Nationwide and truck races this weekend are more than a thousand miles and a time zone apart, this seemed like a good time to try to add an 11th, 12th or 13th.

There is history just in the endeavor and legend if he pulls it off.

On 27 occasions, drivers have won the Cup and Nationwide races on the same weekend. All occurred when the races were at the same track, so Busch's task is daunting enough already. No driver has ever tried to run all three of NASCAR's national series races in the same weekend in different towns. None of the 27 who won Cup and Nationwide races on the same weekend attempted the truck race.

Coming in, Busch was apparently too in the moment to see the bigger picture, but that has worked exceptionally well so far. He has come close to the top-three sweep, winning the truck and Nationwide race at Phoenix last fall and finishing eighth in Cup.

"The biggest thing is you want to go out there and race," he said this week. "When we're sitting there in the motor home watching the truck race Friday night wondering why we're not there, you know, you have two things going through your mind: 'Why aren't we going there,' (or) 'I'm kind of glad I'm sitting here not doing anything.'

"When you're a racer, you want to be that guy that's there."

On Friday, Busch qualified 10th for Sunday's Sprint Cup race in Pocono, Pa. He will run every practice (including today) in the No. 18 Cup series Toyota, so he needed substitute qualifiers for the truck and Nationwide races. He started in the back of the field for Friday's truck race in Fort Worth, Texas, but finished second, losing by just more than a truck length. He will start from the back again in today's Nationwide race at Nashville. The prospect of sweeping the weekend was far-fetched and won't happen now. That's not the point, apparently.

"It's just in your blood," said his agent, Jeff Dickerson. "You're either a racer or you're not."

JR Norris, a developmental driver for Billy Ballew Motorsports, qualified and practiced in the No. 51 Toyota truck, in which Busch won two of the first three races this season. Willie Allen will handle the No. 32 Toyota Nationwide car until Busch arrives.

Drivers are accustomed to jet-setting, with appearances filling much of their time between races. Traveling on private craft eliminates much of the hassle of the everyday traveler, so Busch has few worries about stamina. There might not be as much nap opportunity, however, with a TV crew documenting his sojourn.

"They're wanting to film what goes on on the plane, off the plane, this and that and everywhere," he said. "That's kind of going to be probably the most draining thing, is just toting them around with us."

Busch's week began by racing in Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream sprint car race in Eldora, Ohio, followed by a commitment in Hackettstown, N.J., the home of one of his sponsors.

Then it was off to Pocono for rest and a full day of on-track Cup activity. From there it got complicated and would be more so if any ill weather intervenes.

"As soon as we're done qualifying, get a helicopter, helicopter from Pocono Raceway to the airport, fly from that airport over to Alliance in Dallas/Fort Worth, right there next to the racetrack," he said of his schedule. "We'll drive over with a police escort and run a truck race. Police escort out back to the airport, fly back to Pocono. Then drive from the airport, which is about a 40-minute drive from the airport to the racetrack. Sleep there until practice stuff starts (this) morning. Do all that stuff. As soon as it's over, helicopter out of the racetrack to the airport.

"Then we're going to go to Nashville, run the Nationwide race. I don't know whether we get a helicopter from the airport to the racetrack there or whether we're driving. Then after the race back, I don't know what's going on there yet. We fly back to Pocono, of course, get ready for Sunday's race."

Simple. It's nice to be 23 and invincible.

Busch aiming for unprecedented NASCAR top-three sweep 06/06/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 7, 2008 12:30am]
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