Kyle (r) and Kurt - seen here after finishing 1-2 at Sonoma in 2015 - return to their home track this weekend after both missed the Kobalt 400 last season. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kurt and Kyle Busch are returning to their home track this weekend when NASCAR visits Las Vegas Motor Speedway after both missed last year's Kobalt 400.
The brothers are natives of Las Vegas. They began their racing careers in and around the area at young ages. Now that they’ve gone on to become NASCAR stars and Sprint Cup Series champions, the opportunity to race in front of family and friends becomes even sweeter.
"Vegas always means a little more pressure – on myself – just because it’s our hometown and you want to win there," Kyle said. "Thankfully, I've knocked that one off the list, but you want to win there every year."
From 1999 to 2001, the younger Busch brother earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars while racking up two track championships at the facility’s Bullring, which existed for several years before the 1.5-mile oval was built. He moved up to Late Models and his winning ways continued, capturing 10 victories at the Bullrings in 2001.
"My fondest racing memory is probably my first race in a Late Model," Kyle recalls. "I started eighth or 10th and ended up winning."
While older brother Kurt also has fond memories of his days racing around his native Las Vegas, including success in the old Southwest Tour for Late Models, his focus is on trying to score his first Sprint Cup win at his home track in Sunday’s Kobalt 400.
The race will be the second featuring the new low-downforce rules package that debuted last weekend in Atlanta. Like most drivers, Kurt is optimistic about its evolution.
"The lower downforce and softer tires are great," said Busch, who notched a top-five finish in Atlanta. "Goodyear has its work cut out. Could we make it simpler for them and make the cars weigh less? These stock cars are really heavy and they chew up tires. I wish they could weigh less. That way, we'd have less crashing when we hit the wall due to an odd circumstance.
"Overall, I’m happy with the way things turned out. We need to find a little bit more speed on the No. 41 so that it's more consistent from the beginning of the race to the end."
Kyle Busch has one win, four top fives and five top-10 finishes at LVMS and has led 192 laps in 11 Sprint Cup starts. Like Kurt, he likes the new rules package but believes it will be a challenge to score his second career Vegas win.
"It’s much different than Atlanta last weekend, even though both tracks are the same size," he said. "Vegas is grippy, with the tire being of a little harder compound, and you’ve got good speed. Then in the race, it gets sunny and slick, and the cars can get loose. Once you get your car handling well, you still have a lot of speed and don’t fall off as much as you do at places like Atlanta and Texas."
There’s business to take care of for both Busch boys this weekend in their hometown, to be sure, but both are looking forward to being surrounded by friendly surroundings while they chase the checkered flag.
"There are a lot of friends you get to see and catch up with that you text back-and-forth or talk back-and-forth with during the year, but you never get to see them. So that’s always cool to go out there and race," Kyle said.