Kyle Busch is synonymous with NASCAR, he is a two-time Cup Series champion after all. Fortunately for us rallycross fans, he’s also a badass driver willing to try a different discipline and step into a new-to-him car, only have a few minutes of practice in a parking lot on Friday and then go racing at Wild Horse Park on Saturday and Sunday.
As we got towards the last day of the third round, in all honesty, Kyle didn’t seemed thrilled with how his Sunday event was shaping up as he finished third in his semi-final race which meant that he would have to do battle in the last chance qualifier….until he was gifted a second-place finish. A five-second penalty was assessed to Robin Larsson after a racing incident against Steve Arpin and Kyle Busch moved up a position as Larsson moved down. Kyle joked, “Don’t do me any favors!” But you could see he was pleased he didn’t have to run in the LCQ or start on the back row for the final. Immediately after this great news, he kindly sat down to discuss his experience and thoughts on Nitro Rallycross.
It must be a relief to know you’re moving into the final?
KB: It’s certainly nice to come here and make our way into the final. That was always the goal. From the onset, we wanted to come and do this event with Travis (Pastrana) and Scott (Speed) and everybody, so making it to the final was the goal. Now what we do with that, I’m not sure, but I think we’ve met our goal. I’ve certainly learned a lot and gotten a lot better but there’s still much more to go.
We have the main coming up and you were just having a conversation with your spotter. What was he telling you?
KB: We were going over the (semi-final) race a little bit more and discussing what was going on behind us. Guys were going off the track here or running into tires there and discussing the action of the race.
Has this been a steep learning curve for you?
KB: I wouldn’t say steep, but there have been…. Well, let’s define “steep.” “Steep” meaning, have I continued to suck at the same things over and over again? Then yes, I guess it’s been pretty steep because I keep messing up. On the last lap of my semi, I felt like I got better in turn seven which helped me in eight, nine, ten…but before that, it was always a struggle in that soft stuff out there. Just knowing how to turn the car, get the car turned and pointed while you’re on the gas is important.
At this point, Brexton, Kyle’s six-year-old son walked over and put one arm around his dad and very thoughtfully asked if he needed a water. Kyle had one in his hand but appreciative of his sons’ kindness, accepted the bottle that was being handed to him. Brexton whispered something in Kyle’s ear and Kyle laughed and said, “No, not until I win. Not until I win, Buddy!” Brexton’s giggle was infectious and the tender bond these two share is obvious and heart-warming. Young Brexton is also a competitor with some wins under his belt, so naturally, he had to be included in the remainder of the interview.
BB: Dad, I think you start on pole? Do you know why?
BB: Because you’re the first one to not transfer (kids and their honesty – it’s so pure. He also didn’t really understand the rules, but Kyle gently educated him).
KB: Well guess what? They (officials) actually told me that the winner got a five-second penalty for dirty driving so that means that I’m in.
BB: (eyes wide and totally pumped) He actually did? How come?
KB: Did you watch that action on the track where he ran that guy to the bottom, and he pushed him into the tires? You can’t do that.
Brexton was transfixed and listening to every word his dad was saying. So, the question had to be posed to the young one: Are you so impressed with your dad’s driving?
He stepped closer to his dad, touching him on the arm again and obviously said, “yes.”
Kyle asked Brexton if he thought he could still do better and asked, “I have to catch those guys in front of me, right?”
BB: Yeah, they were buh-bye! The two laughed together and simulated waving goodbye to the other drivers.
Brexton, what do you think about the jumps?
BB: Oh, those! The gap jump is really hard for my dad…
KB: Oh okay. Is that always where I lose time? Over the gap jump?
BB: Probably (as he shrugged and smiled a big, toothy grin at his dad).
Kyle appreciated Brexton’s honesty, and he was asked to explain his thoughts on how he could go faster?
BB: Do you lift on the gap jump?
KB: I don’t lift on the gap jump, so what can I do to go faster over it?
BB: (laughs) I don’t know…
KB: More traction in my car? I need more grip and softer tires… (and Brexton nodded his head in agreement.)
Do you find it enjoyable to launch over the jumps?
KB: Jumps are fun. It’s certainly an interesting aspect. There’s a lot of them, I think Travis did that for a reason, but I’ve done jumps like that before in Pro2 stuff but never anything like this. Learning the tendency and the trick of how to fly was the biggest thing.
What’s been the biggest takeaway from this weekend at Nitro Rallycross?
It’s cool. It’s fun. It’s nice because it’s a little bit more laid back and not so stressful but I’m sure it’s a whole different process for those guys because they race for points and all that matters. Whereas I’m just coming in, having fun and enjoying what I can get out of it. I think that lends itself to being more laid back in any realm that I do. I’ve done part-time Xfinity, part-time Truck and it’s more fun (for me) than for the guys that race full time.
Will we see you at another Nitro Rallycross round?
Probably not this year, but I’ll definitely talk to Travis and work out some stuff to hopefully come back next year.
We love that idea!
Kyle Busch raced round three in Arizona and finished fourth overall. A huge success for his first time competing in Nitro RX. After the checkers flew, in his social media interview, you could watch Travis congratulate Timmy Hansen and Scott Speed, who went two-three and then immediately asked where Kyle finished. It looked like Travis was equally ecstatic with that information as he was with his win.
As for all of us here at NitroRX, we were thrilled that Kyle agreed to race the Arizona round which has opened the door to bring in more incredible talent like Chase Elliot this weekend, December 4th – 5th at The Firm in Starke, Florida. Don’t miss the last round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross season!
Famous for his bold driving skills, explosiveness and ferocious competitive nature which no doubt pings into the red zone on the tachometer during race day, is coming to throw down against the best rallycross drivers in the world. We’ll see him compete in the Nitro Rallycross series during round three at Wild Horse Park in Chandler, AZ, November 12th- 14th.
The fact that we have one of the greatest NASCAR drivers ever who wants to see how he stacks up against the best rallycross drivers in the world is incredible and we have Travis Pastrana to thank for it. Travis and Subaru teammate Scott Speed recently had a conversation about the joy that Nitro RX has inspired as Travis recounted, “Scott was talking about how much fun he was having with Nitro RX and how it’s been a long time since he was genuinely scared and excited just to drive practice. We talked about some top drivers in other sports, and I joked about who we thought would have fun and do well in Nitro RX? Scott Speed said the greatest driver in the world was Kyle Busch… which I was surprised to hear because Scott is an amazing driver and confident in his own abilities, so I’ve never heard him talk about anyone in that light.”
The gears obviously started turning in Travis’ head and unable to forget the conversation with Scott Speed, Travis reached out to Kyle Busch for a straightforward discussion:
Travis – “Kyle, do you want to race Nitro Rallycross in the (ZipRecruiter-sponsored) #GoNitro car at Phoenix the weekend after your last cup race in Arizona?”
Kyle – “Is the car competitive?”
Travis – “Yes. I feel they are the best in the field.”
Kyle – “Will I get the exact same car as you and Scott or is it a worn-out work horse?”
Travis – “Exactly the same.”
Kyle – “How likely is it that I’m going to get hurt?”
Travis – “Um… well…”
Kyle – “Never mind. I’ll clear it with Samantha and then run it up the chain with Toyota.”
One week later and he was locked in!
As a race promoter who wants the best drivers in our championship and a driver who wants to go up against the best, Travis’ first call was to Kyle. And Kyle has stated that as a driver, “he isn’t a dirt guy,” so will Kyle’s asphalt expertise translate to dirt? Travis unequivocally left zero doubt saying, “Kyle can drive any vehicle on any surface. He is an amazingly gifted, natural driver and has more seat time in more vehicles than anyone.”
Known for his aggressive driving style, Kyle Busch competing in the Arizona round will be a perfect match for Nitro rallycross because if a timid driver came into the mix, they’d be left behind and lapped. No one can imagine that happening to Kyle.
*As a side note, Kyle ran dwarf cars, legend cars and modifieds as a kid and participated in a super late model charity event from 2007 through 2012 all on dirt, so even though he doesn’t call himself a “dirt guy,” his experience off the asphalt is vast.
Speaking of dirt, what about the impressive jumps Nitro RX is known for, will Travis be providing any guidance? Travis said, “The only advice Kyle would even consider taking from me is how fast he needs to hit the jumps. I’m glad he will be on our team because I’m sure we will learn as much or more from Kyle than he will learn from us.” Kyle no doubt will be processing lessons quickly while taking on his high horsepower car, attacking jumps, dirt banked turns and sliding sideways with four-wheel traction. Watching his evolution will be a blast!
Nitro Rallycross is only two races old and already making huge waves. A youthful series gaining traction that has attracted a headlining name in NASCAR (the biggest motorsport in the U.S.), Kyle Busch wants to jump in and see how he stacks up. Things are about to get “Rowdy.”
Catch Travis Pastrana, Scott Speed, Tanner Foust and the rest of the Nitro Rallycross gang face off against Kyle Busch in Chandler, Arizona at Wild Horse Park November 12th-14th.