No. 3: Kyle Busch and Interstate Batteries Win at Texas
Impeccable driving and a lightning-fast pit crew sent Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries team to victory lane in a thrilling first-time hometown triumph for Dallas-based Interstate Batteries chairman Norm Miller. Busch dominated Interstate Battery’s backyard track in Fort Worth with his win at the NRA 500 Sprint Cup race in April.
“For Interstate Batteries and Norm Miller to be in victory lane in Texas, there’s nothing better than putting them right here,” said Busch. “We’ve been trying for a long time and fortunately we finally got it done.”
More than 20 years ago, Miller agreed to a risky partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing, a time when Joe Gibbs said all he had was a dream—no manufacturers, no building, not even a driver.
But Miller saw promise in the dream and Interstate Batteries became a founding, full-time sponsor of JGR. Since then, they have been a huge part of JGR history and culture said Todd Meredith, vice president of operations for JGR. Miller is not just a sponsor, he is “a huge friend to all of us,” said Meredith.
“It means so much to have a guy like that on your side,” Busch said.
And it meant a lot for Miller and Interstate Batteries to have a driver like Busch bring them to victory lane for the first time at their home track. It was a momentous and record-setting weekend for Busch, too. Breaking the track qualifying record at 27.509 seconds, 196.299 mph, Busch took the pole position in his 300th start. It was his 26th career Cup win and his first at the 1.5-mile Texas track. He became the first driver to sweep the weekend and have wins in all three series at Texas. Busch also set a NASCAR record in winning both races in the same weekend for the seventh time of his career.
Busch maintained the lead for 149 of the first 200 laps and never fell out of the top three.
“We knew we had a fast car, but we needed to finish the deal,” said Busch. “And it didn’t look like we were going to be able to for a few laps chasing that 56.”
Just when it appeared that Martin Truex Jr. would run away with the checkered flag, there was a caution for debris on lap 315. The No. 18 Interstate Batteries pit crew recognized an opportunity to get back to the top and performed a swift, four-tire pit stop in 11.7 seconds.
“As soon as that caution came, my boys stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam,” said Busch. “They pulled out one heck of a stop right there at the end to put us up front to give us that lead.”
Busch took and the held the top spot for the final restart and drove away from Truex Jr. to bring home the checkered flag by 0.508 seconds.
“It wouldn’t be possible without such a great team led by (crew chief) Dave Rogers,” said Busch. “They won me the race.” Busch and his team have been together since his first season with JGR in 2008. “They’re just flawless, I mean they’re amazing every time we come down pit road.”
The hard work of the No. 18 crew paid off, as well as their equipment. NASCAR’s Gen-6 cars in their debut season are fast, fun and “amazing to drive.” Busch said his team gave him a great car for a race that was “all about staying up front, keeping it clean and running as hard as we could.”
As part of Texas winner’s tradition, Busch received a grand boot trophy, donned a cowboy hat and fired six-shooters in Victory Lane.
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