Break out the broom?
That certainly looms as a possibility this weekend, as Kyle Busch participates in all three NASCAR national series events at Dover International Speedway. It's the same facility where Busch nearly pulled off an unprecedented tripleheader sweep three years ago, before doing just that later in the same season at Bristol, another concrete oval.
That triumph in the late summer of 2010 marked the first and only time a driver has swept three races since NASCAR's national division was expanded to a third series in 1995. And this tripleheader comes as Busch is running roughshod over the competition on the Nationwide and Camping World Truck tours, and showing renewed strength in the sport's premier division after missing the Chase for the Sprint Cup a season ago.
"I've been very successful in all three series at Dover, so this spring race is one that I look at as a possible triple-win weekend," Busch said. "The concrete surface is very slick and some drivers don't like the concrete feel one bit, while other drivers like it. For me, I enjoy going to Dover and Bristol. They are fun places to race because they are challenging and other drivers don't necessarily get it."
After Busch swept all three races at Bristol in 2010, he celebrated the accomplishment by raising a broom in Victory Lane. He might want to pack a similar accessory this week, given how good he's been historically in all kinds of vehicles on the Monster Mile, and how he very nearly pulled off a three-race sweep at the track in the spring of 2010.
It was a fuel pump problem in the Truck Series event that thwarted the effort, relegating him to a 16th-place finish after he had led 172 laps. He made up for it in the Nationwide event, where he led 191 of 205 laps, and then led the final 35 circuits to take the next day's Sprint Cup race.
There's certainly the potential for more of the same this year, given that Busch has two Truck Series victories at Dover, the most recent in the spring of 2011 when he led 128 of 200 laps. He also has three Nationwide Series wins at the facility, where he hasn't finished worse than fifth since 2009. And in the Sprint Cup ranks he has two career victories at Dover, where he's finished worse than seventh just once in his last six starts, and led 302 laps last fall until he was forced to pit late for fuel.
He's running just as well now, particularly in the Nationwide Series, where Busch has won six times in nine starts this season. Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway brought another dominant effort, one in which Busch led 186 laps, the most there in a Nationwide race since Dale Earnhardt led 194 in 1986. Busch became the track's all-time Nationwide winner with his seventh victory at the facility, accumulating his 17th perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 in the process.
"It's a lot of fun to go out there and lead that many laps and run up front and just see all the people in the grandstands telling you that you're No. 1 every lap," Busch said after the victory, "and then to take home the checkered flag at the end of the day, and put it right back at them."
Busch always has NASCAR tripleheaders on his radar, as evidenced by the fact that seven of his 10 scheduled Truck Series starts this season are on weekends where the other two national circuits are also competing. Before finally doing the Bristol sweep in August of 2010, he had come within one race victory of a trifecta five times -- Phoenix in the fall of 2007, Atlanta in spring 2008, Fontana in spring 2009, Bristol in summer 2009, Texas in fall 2009, and his near miss at Dover in spring 2010.
Busch has also won in the Truck Series this season, leading 80 of 134 laps to prevail May 17 at Charlotte, which was just his third start of the year on that circuit. His success in those events comes as he's hit a speed bump in his Sprint Cup campaign, where he's won twice but finished better than 24th just once since his most recent victory at Texas. Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600, it was engine failure that ultimately doomed an effort that saw Busch lead 65 laps.
"Catastrophic engine failure -- it seems to be that time of year again," said Busch, who suffered a run of blowups early last summer. "I hate it for all my guys. They worked too hard and they always do, but (crew chief) Dave Rogers and these guys, they pour their hearts and souls into this deal, and it's just so frustrating to see it end on a short note like that and not getting he finish that we needed. Now we go to Dover."
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