Kyle Busch Adds Star-Power To The Rolex 24 Field

Kyle Busch in action in Lexus RC-F GT3 on the tri-oval at Daytona. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Kyle Busch in action in Lexus RC-F GT3 on the tri-oval at Daytona. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

Daytona Beach – Kyle Busch, the reigning NASCAR Cup champion, is making his Rolex 24 debut in this year’s edition of the legendary event and in doing so, he joins a list of great drivers that have added star-power to the worldly event.

Kyle Busch during press conference. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Kyle Busch during press conference. [Joe Jennings Photo]

A year ago, former Indy Car champion Alex Zanardi and Formula 1 champion grabbed the spotlight and previously Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Dario Franchitti and Jimmie Johnson were the attention-getters. Going back in time, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the headlines with their presence.

Busch has entered the upcoming Rolex 24 in one of two AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC-F GT3s. He will share the driving duties with Jack Hawksworth, Parker Chase and Michael De Quesada.

According to Busch, Toyota/Lexus had been asking him to race at Daytona, so he decided he better take them up on their offer. He also said in 2008 he did race in a Grand-Am daytime sprint race with Scott Speed in a Ganassi prototype, and he recalled it was on a very hot day in an ill-handling car. “It must have been 1,000 degrees inside the car and I had to race my Cup car that same night, and I remember being flushed when it was over,” he commented.

For the 2020 Rolex 24, Busch said, “The opportunity presented itself, so I thought I would come out here and have some fun. The team has done a great job welcoming me in, helping me out to get me accustomed to the car and this form of racing and what it entails.

“I got my time in the car after Jack (Hawksworth) shook it down and set the baseline. The guys said I did a good job, but I know I have a lot to improve upon. I know I have my NASCAR driving techniques imbedded in my brain, so I have to get rid of them, to see what this car can take and the techniques that are different between the two vehicles.”

To begin the preparations, Busch went to Toyota’s simulator in Salisbury (North Carolina) and was joined by Jack Hawksworth. I learned a lot from the day we spent there, so I could learn what to expect. Without that I would be totally lost. Jack has been very helpful and having him working with me has been great.”

Busch said braking has been his biggest challenge compared to the heavier stock cars. “On these cars, you can drive the snot out of them, throwing them into the corners, stomping the pedal as hard as you can. I got into the bus stop way too deep – 50 feet beyond where Jack did – so I have to fine-tune my marks and work on my finesse. Right now, I am sloppy and with more practice, I should get better.”

With communication, Busch hopes to be able to figure out more about what is going on while running with faster and slower cars. “I want to do more than just have fun, as I would like to win for the team and Lexus and for the NASCAR community. I hope that we have a shot for a win.”

In the night practice, Busch thought the visibility was perfect, better than many short tracks he has raced on.

Busch’s presence has triggered considerable attention and lots of press coverage, so now he admits he has to perform.

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