Busch brothers become owner-driver combo in Texas
The Busch Brothers are adding a new dynamic to their relationship.
When Kurt Busch gets in the car for Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide race in Texas, where he ran in that series for the first time and won six years ago, it will be his debut driving for younger brother Kyle's new stock car team.
"It is owner-driver, but it is brother-brother, and it's unique with me having the upper hand on age," 33-year-old Kurt Busch said Thursday. "But I respect him for the guts that he has to jump into this endeavor, to be the owner."
After the first of about 17 Nationwide races driving for his brother, they will be competitors again Saturday night in the Sprint Cup race.
It was at Texas last November when NASCAR barred 26-year-old Kyle Busch from driving for Joe Gibbs in the Cup and Nationwide races. That came after Busch, driving the truck he owned, deliberately wrecked championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr. during a caution in the race that started a tripleheader weekend.
Since NASCAR's last trip to the 1 1/2-mile high-banked track, Kurt Busch has changed Cup teams. He split with Penske Racing after six seasons in what was called a mutual parting of the ways and is with the new much smaller and less-funded Phoenix Racing team.
"Both teams that I'm with this year are very unique circumstances," he said. "We'll have chances at winning in the Nationwide car, we're going to have to claw and scrap and fight real hard with the Cup car. But we're going to have our opportunities to have fun every week."
After the Easter break, NASCAR resumes this weekend with the first scheduled night Cup race of the season, though not the first one. (Don't forget that rain-postponed Daytona 500 that was run on a Monday night).
Greg Biffle, who has seven consecutive top-10 finishes in Texas and won at the track in 2005, is the relaxed points leader.
Biffle took advantage of the time off with a Bahamas vacation, chartering a big boat that he stayed on during the week. It was peaceful, with crystal clear water, pristine beaches and really no one else around.
"I haven't been on a vacation in quite some time like that," Biffle said. "Man, I'm ready to go. I'm fired up. ... I'm pretty excited about getting going."
Texas is the only Nationwide race in a four-week span. There have been two weeks off in the second-tier series since its race at Fontana on March 24, and there isn't a race next week.
"It feels like it's been a while. ... Easy breezy April," said Danica Patrick, who is in her first full Nationwide season.
After the radiator was punctured by debris, Patrick dropped out of the California race with engine trouble and finished 35th. She completed only 63 of 150 laps on the day before her 30th birthday.
"I was able to give myself plenty of distractions over the last couple of weeks. ... A never-ending birthday party," Patrick said. "Breaks get me excited to get back at it again. I think that's what it's done."
There was a party on her birthday, followed by trips to Cabo and Northern California and a surprise party.
Patrick's limited Sprint Cup schedule with Tony Stewart's team won't have her driving in Texas until the November race.
Missing from the Nationwide field this weekend is Trevor Bayne, the November winner who is fourth in points this season. But a lack of sponsorship forced Roush Fenway Racing to leave the No. 60 car out of this race.
Kyle Busch's Nationwide team is sponsored by Monster Energy, which was looking to do only a certain number of races before the racing brothers said they would split the full season in the car.
Kurt is only a driver and Kyle is driver-owner of a team of more than 100 employees.
"This is his program. This is his neck on the line, so to speak. He's got such a strong will to succeed at this ownership level, and I'm here to help out," Kurt Busch said.
"For him to sit on the pit box, for him to put on the headset as an owner and to watch his car go around the race track ... It'll be neat for him to really settle into his ownership role this weekend," he said.
But just what will the reaction of the boss be if the No. 54 car has a bad race.
"He's going to come down on me big time," Kurt said, laughing. "We'll see how he reacts when it's big brother that he's talking to. But, all kidding aside, we have our agenda set forth and the respect that we have for one another, and there will be times this year when that is tested. Hopefully on the first weekend, it's not."