By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- As was widely reported two weeks ago, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch has re-signed with Joe Gibbs Racing.
The long-term deal announced Thursday at the JGR shop, the final stop on the Sprint Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway, contains provisions that govern Busch's participation in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and have positive implications for the driver's own Kyle Busch Motorsports operation.
As the extension is structured, Busch will continue to drive the No. 18 JGR Toyota in the Cup Series under terms that were not disclosed. The No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, which KBM fielded in the Nationwide Series last year, will become part of the Gibbs operation, with Busch as driver for approximately 25 races.
KBM will run the No. 77 Toyota for Parker Kligerman in the Nationwide Series, as well as a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck entry for Joey Coulter. Busch will compete in approximately 10 races in the Truck Series in his No. 51 Toyota.
Busch will get engines from JGR for his Nationwide and Truck teams. That's a change from Triad Racing Technologies, which supplied the KBM teams with engines last season.
Busch had looked at other options but decided to remain with JGR, despite narrowly missing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2012.
"You look more towards the positive things, what these guys have been working on here and what Toyota's been working on for us behind the scenes, and what we feel like we can do (going) forward to win races," Busch said Thursday at the JGR shop.
"There was a time where it was very, very tough, where it became 'D day,' and you've got to make a decision. It was a very, very tough decision, and it was because you know that, if you venture off to do something different, then all the hurt and everything else is going to go on through that. That wasn't the main reasoning of staying, but just the relationships I've had here over the time, it just made sense to keep going."
ONE FAN AT A TIME
Travis Pastrana has more than half a million Twitter followers, ranking him first -- decisively -- among full-time Nationwide Series drivers.
Pastrana's fans, however, know him best for dangerous extreme-sports tricks that last two or three seconds. How does Pastrana convert those followers -- many of whom fall into the 18-34-year-old age group NASCAR covets -- to NASCAR fans, as he begins a full Nationwide Series season with Roush Fenway Racing.
He's already started. Pastrana took some of his extreme-sports friends to a NASCAR race. They left with eyes wide open.
"It's funny, because last year, a couple of my friends from the action sports were like, 'Oh, come on -- NASCAR?'" Pastrana told the NASCAR Wire Service on Thursday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "So I brought 'em down to Daytona, and we saw the Shootout (now the Sprint Unlimited), and Jeff Gordon ended up on his roof sliding to within five feet of where we were sitting.
"Half of the guys that I brought went to other events -- not even events that I was in, just other events that year. When they see the speed, when they see the intensity of NASCAR, no one can go to a race and not be a fan."
Pastrana knows, however, that in order to retain fans for his racing efforts, he needs to perform.
"My goal is just simply to drive the best I can, because, even if I bring them over and they want to watch me, no one wants to watch someone at the end of a year, or at the end of two years still in 20th place," he said.
DÉJÀ VU FOR YATES
Combining forces is nothing new for engine builder Doug Yates.
In 2004, the Robert Yates Racing engine shop merged with Roush Racing to form Roush Yates Engines. Later that year they won a championship with driver Kurt Busch.
Yates, the company's CEO, sees similarities between the 2004 alliance and the current expansion required to produce engines for Penske Racing, a new addition to the Ford camp this year. Yates has incorporated approximately 20 employees from the Penske Engine shop, and with new employees come new ideas.
"It's similar to when Roush Racing and Robert Yates Racing put our engine programs together in 2004," Yates told the NASCAR Wire Service. "Very different approaches, very different objectives, and when we put them together, we had a really strong program. "It's similar with the Penske organization and what they did. It's always nice to pollinate your company with different ideas and different approaches. Bringing some of that technology over and trying to integrate it into our program is going to be healthy for us."
Healthy enough to bring Ford another championship?
"That's our goal every year, but this year, it's really (at the) top of mine," Yates said. "Ford Motor Company's in a good spot."