Kyle Busch Bio Continued
His rise to one of the top drivers in the sport unofficially began at age 6, when Busch cruised around the cul-de-sac of his family’s Las Vegas neighborhood in a makeshift go-kart. Busch was too small to reach the throttle, but that didn’t stop him from picking up the basics. His father, Tom, held down the gas pedal while Busch steered the kart on the street. Once Kyle Busch was tall enough to reach the gas pedal, an accelerated pace was set for his future career in motorsports.
Throughout his childhood, Busch spent countless hours as an apprentice in the family garage to his father and his older brother, Kurt, learning to build and repair racecars. By age 10, Busch was a full-fledged mechanic and served as crew chief on Kurt’s Dwarf car team. In 1998, shortly after his 13th birthday, Kyle Busch’s driving career officially began.
Given his young age, schoolwork was always a priority. Busch was an honor student, but his extracurricular activities always included a racecar. Busch’s parents taught him accountability: If he wanted to race, he was responsible to work on, repair and pay for his cars. Busch learned early on that carelessness on the track proved costly, resulting in wrecked equipment and being unprepared for the next event. He took pride in his racecars and raced competitors with respect.
From 1999 to 2001, Busch earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars as he earned two track championships at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway “Bullring” before moving up to Late Model stock cars. Winning seemed to come naturally no matter what Busch drove, as he captured 10 victories in Late Model competition at the Bullring in 2001.
His winning reputation and potential for success began to pique the interest of car owners in NASCAR, and Busch made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut – at age 16 – on Aug. 3, 2001 at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, where he started 23rd and finished ninth for Roush-Fenway Racing. Shortly thereafter, an unexpected ruling by NASCAR that enacted a minimum age requirement for competitors in NASCAR’s top three series sidelined Busch until his 18th birthday.
Instead of sitting idle until that magic date, Busch turned his attention to the American Speed Association and ran the entire 2002 schedule. In a division that prepared the likes of Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki and Rusty Wallace for NASCAR, Busch once again was successful by posting five top-fives and 10 top-10s in 20 starts, ending the season eighth in points. That same year, he graduated with honors – one year early – from Durango High School in Las Vegas.
Prior to his 18th birthday in 2003, Busch signed with Hendrick Motorsports and quickly got down to business, winning his very first ARCA Series race at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway from the pole position. He followed with a second win in his very next outing, at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Upon turning 18, he entered seven races in the Nationwide Series – the stepping-stone to the elite Sprint Cup Series – and finished second at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in his very first start. Busch ended the year with two second-place finishes, three top-10s and five top-10 qualifying efforts.
The 2004 season started off on a high note as Busch scored an ARCA victory Feb. 7 in his first career start on the high banks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. And after his first full season in the Nationwide Series, Busch was the youngest top rookie in series history, at age 19.
Busch grabbed his first Nationwide Series victory May 14, 2004 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The win sparked four more victories – at Charlotte, Kentucky, O’Reilly Raceway Park and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Busch ended the year with five poles, five wins, 16 top-fives, 22 top-10s and a runner-up finish in the point standings.
To gain experience and seat time in NASCAR’s premier series, Busch also qualified for six Sprint Cup races. In late 2004, Busch’s career dreams came true as he was selected to replace the retiring Terry Labonte in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 car beginning in 2005.
At age 19, Busch started the 2005 season with a record-setting pole at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in just his eighth career Sprint Cup start. Busch, who was 19 years, 317 days old, broke the record previously held by Donald Thomas, who was 20 years, 129 days old when he won the pole at Lakewood (Ga.) Speedway on Nov. 16, 1952. Thomas went on to win that race and remained the youngest race winner in Sprint Cup history until Busch won Sept. 4, 2005 at
Fontana. Busch bested Thomas’ record by a mere four days and held the title as youngest Sprint Cup winner until his JGR teammate Joey Logano won in June 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon at 19 years, 35 days.
Finishing his rookie season with another victory in November at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch’s first year consisted of one pole, nine top-fives, 13 top-10s, two wins and a 20th-place finish in the standings. Busch bookended his Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year trophy from 2004 by winning the Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year title in 2005.
The 2006 season brought more success for Busch as he won another pole in April at Phoenix and took his third race win in July at New Hampshire. In addition to the pole and race win, Busch managed to bring home 10 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes while ending up 10th in the point standings after qualifying for his first Chase for the Championship, where Busch was – you guessed it – the youngest driver ever to become eligible for the Chase.
Busch continued his success in his third full season in 2007 by winning at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in March and again qualifying for the Chase. He finished the season with a remarkable 20 top-10s and 11 top-fives and went on to complete the season fifth in the final point standings – his career best.
In the offseason, Busch moved to Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) to pilot the team’s legendary No. 18 machine after his four seasons at rival Hendrick Motorsports. In the meantime, JGR was in the middle of a major change, having switched from Chevrolet to new manufacturer Toyota and M&M’s Chocolate Candies becoming the primary sponsor of the No. 18 car.
The Busch-JGR-M&M’s-Toyota combination quickly became successful and yielded eight Sprint Cup wins, 17 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes en route to a 10th-place finish in the points in 2008.
Adding to his Sprint Cup success, Busch began to win in seemingly everything he drove. By season’s end, Las Vegas native Busch recorded 21 victories across NASCAR’s top three series – Sprint Cup (eight), Nationwide (10) and Camping World Truck (three). Busch bested the previous record by seven wins for most victories overall in a season since the addition of the Truck Series in 1995.
The 2009 season saw more of the same as Busch drove the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota to victory in four races, including an emotional win at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which was being constructed when his career was just beginning. He also scored 13 top-10 finishes en route to a 13th-place finish in the points.
Busch also won his first NASCAR title of any kind by defeating runner-up Carl Edwards by 210 points to win the 2009 Nationwide Series title driving for JGR. The championship likely will go down as one of the most impressive in NASCAR’s 62-year history.
His 5,682 points scored in 2009 were the most ever by a Nationwide Series competitor, as were the 2,698 laps he led throughout the season. Busch totaled nine wins – four more than any other driver in 2009 – while he finished second 11 times for a single-season Nationwide Series record. Busch’s 25 top-five finishes were the most since Jeff Green scored 25 top-fives in a 32-race season in 2000.
Busch failed to lead a lap in only three races and led more than 50 percent of the laps in a race an incredible 12 times. The points race was never in doubt as he topped the standings after 30 of the 35 events, including the last 29 of the season.
In addition to his Nationwide Series championship in 2009, Busch continued to participate in a limited Camping World Truck Series schedule and drove to victory lane seven times in just 15 starts.
While it seemed as if his 2008 and 2009 season would be difficult to top, Busch stepped up his game yet again in 2010. Across all three of NASCAR’s national series that season, Busch made 81 total starts – 36 Sprint Cup, 29 Nationwide and 16 Truck, the latter of which he served as driver-owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) during its inaugural season.
He won 24 races across the three divisions – three in Sprint Cup, a record-smashing 13 in Nationwide and eight in the Camping World Truck Series for an incredible winning percentage of nearly 30 percent. Coupled with his 21 overall wins in 2008 and 20 overall wins in 2009, Busch recorded an astounding 65 overall victories over those three seasons. In addition to his remarkable win totals, Busch had 45 top-five and 57 top-10 finishes, as well as 11 poles among NASCAR’s top three series in 2010.
And Busch also found several new ways to add his name to the record books in 2010, something he has done routinely since joining the powerhouse JGR organization at the beginning of the 2008 season.
Including the aforementioned 13 Nationwide Series wins, which shattered the mark of 10 wins set by Sam Ard in 1983 and was tied by Busch in 2008, Busch broke Martin’s Nationwide Series career record of 8,082 laps led. Busch’s 9,466 career laps led total is an all-time high. In addition to being the all-time Nationwide Series lap leader, Busch found himself just five wins behind Martin’s series record of 48 wins.
Another impressive accomplishment for Busch in 2010 came in August at Bristol, where he swept the schedule of NASCAR races at the .533-mile oval to become the first driver in history to win all three of NASCAR’s national touring series events in the same weekend.
While he fell short of a Sprint Cup title with the No. 18 Sprint Cup team, Busch did qualify for the Chase and finished eighth in points. But Busch’s talents helped earn two other teams a championship in 2010. In addition to his part in vaulting JGR’s No. 18 Nationwide Series to the owner title – JGR’s third championship in a row – Busch guided his KBM Toyota team to the 2010 Camping World Truck Series owner title, even more impressive because the team was in its first year.
After winning 18 overall races among NASCAR’s top three divisions in 2011, including his 100th overall win that came in the Nationwide Series race in July at New Hampshire, Busch embarked on a scaled-back schedule of Nationwide and Truck Series events in 2012. His victory total suffered with just one overall win last season.
Busch finished 13th in points in a disappointing Sprint Cup season in 2012, as mechanical setbacks hindered the team’s championship drive. But Busch has renewed focus for 2013 as NASCAR introduces the Generation-6 car to the Sprint Cup Series. The last time NASCAR introduced a new model, in 2008, Busch’s first year at JGR, he went on to score an impressive eight Sprint Cup wins that season. In addition to the full Sprint Cup schedule, Busch plans to run a limited number of Nationwide Series races for JGR and a limited Camping World Truck Series schedule for his KBM namesake.
In addition to his aggressive nature behind the wheel of a racecar, Busch has a strong charitable drive. He formed the Kyle Busch Foundation in 2006 to benefit child and adolescent agencies that provide safe living environments for the less fortunate. The Foundation supports homes in Grand Rapids, Mich., Concord, N.C., Atlanta, Mesa, Ariz., and Las Vegas. Busch and his wife, Samantha, reside in Denver, N.C.