Kyle Busch is accustomed to turning some pretty hot laps at Martinsville Speedway, but never with passengers ...until Wednesday.
Busch gave hot-lap rides to about 25 media members and a few lucky fans Wednesday afternoon as part of a promotional event for the upcoming TUMS Fast Relief 500. He got driving support from Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell, an accomplished driver who competes on the NASCAR K&N Series, to make sure everyone got a chance for a near-race experience at Martinsville.
Many of the media were left shaking their heads after exiting the Toyota Camry after a few laps with Busch, amazed at how difficult it was just to ride along in race trim for a few laps, much less racing for 500.
"This place is certainly physically and mentally demanding. Running around here, a thousand times through the corners, it is challenging," said Busch. "We were just out there running around by ourselves and what you felt was about the lap time we run at the end of a run. When you're running a race, in can be taxing on you as a driver, wear out your left foot and certainly can wear out your patience, too."
Busch doesn't have a Martinsville Speedway win yet. He is coming off his best career finish in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 last spring, a third, and he believes a win isn't far away.
"I'd like to think we are really close (to a win). We've been good here. Last spring we ran really well. We ran third, led a lot of laps and ran up front," recalled Busch. "I thought we were going to win the thing and then at the end of the race we just didn't have any forward bite. It's just a tough race track."
Part of his improvement, Busch said, has come from learning how to protect his car better during the 500 laps, something that isn't very easy. "There are some guys here that can run around without a mark on the car when the race is all said and done and finish in a good spot," said Busch. "My first couple of times here I think I had all four corners torn off the car and finished in the 20s. Then I finally figured out what to do and how to do it and then I started running a little better."
The cars used for the ride-alongs were authentic NASCAR Sprint Cup cars, supplied by Andy Hillenberg's Fast Track High Performance Racing School. Busch drove a Toyota Camry with a pain scheme identical to the one he drives on race weekends.
Tickets for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 on Sunday, October 28, the Kroger 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, October 27 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Qualifying on Friday, October 26 are on sale and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com