OXFORD – It’s not like Kyle Busch doesn’t have enough to do. He races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, in the Nationwide Series and yes, even in the Truck Series.
So what was he doing Thursday? Spending time at Oxford Plains Speedway, working on and testing the car he’ll race July 24 in the TD Bank 250 — on what would be a weekend off for other Sprint Cup drivers.
Busch was testing a black Ford that’s never been on a track and was built by a former NASCAR racer, Dale Shaw.
This will be Busch’s third attempt at winning the 250. He last entered in 2006 and held the lead for much of the race, but finished 22nd because of an expired engine.
In 2005, he led the race twice for a total of 61 laps but finished sixth to the eventual winner, Mike Rowe.
“It’s great to have Kyle here,” said Bill Ryan, the track owner. “He’s been here a couple of times and done very well, and I think that adds a level of excitement to having him back.”
Busch said one thing he enjoys about weekends off from Sprint Cup racing is he can explore the variety of tracks and areas.
Busch, 26, the points leader in the Sprint Cup series, has totaled 99 victories in the top three NASCAR levels.
He will race Sunday in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and if he wins, will reach a milestone.
“I would love to win at Loudon,” Busch said. “That would make 100 wins so we certainly wouldn’t pass it up. It’s great to be able to come out to see the race fans from different areas and to be able to put on a good show.”
The Oxford Plains fans gave him a warm welcome when he raced in 2005 and 2006. Having the nation’s top racers makes the event special and exciting for everyone.
“It’s exciting for our fans,” Ryan said. “There is dedication that Kyle exhibits by being here and he’s serious about this.
“Fans appreciate a guy like this coming out and racing against their local heroes. He’s not just here for a summer vacation. It’s really more about going out and winning, and showing off for the fans.”
Ryan also said having Busch benefits local racers because “they get the chance to measure themselves up to the best in the business.”
There’s no question Busch wants to win. Between test runs Thursday, he crawled under his car to work under the hood. He was doing work himself rather than leaving everything for his crew.
“(Busch) is working on the car himself and he’s really passionate about winning the race,” said Ryan.
Support from fans attracted Busch to make a return.
“(Fans treating me well) is why I come back,” Busch said. “We certainly had a good reception and Bill (Ryan) has been gracious enough to invite me back, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Busch said being NASCAR’s representative is something he enjoys because of the fun experience it provides for fans, and provides an opportunity for Oxford Plains to draw a large crowd.
“To me, (representing the top NASCAR racers) is great,” he said. “I love coming out, seeing the fans, and hopefully putting on a good show for them and making sure we get some butts in the seats.”
Although this isn’t a Sprint Cup race, winning is a privilege. Busch said he’s racing for the experience but it would be “good to take the trophy home.”
“It’s a tough race,” Busch said. “It’s anybody’s race, it’s 250 laps and it’s a long weekend.”
It will be an especially long weekend for Busch because he will compete in the Brackett Mechanical/RB Performance PASS 150 on July 23 at Oxford Plains.
Asked if he will do his traditional victory bow to the Oxford Plains crowd, Busch said, “certainly — it’s a tradition, right?”
Staff Writer Austin Pollack can be contacted at 791-6356 or at [email protected]