Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s 75 Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Busch has gone after some of the best up-and-coming talent and helped prepare them for the truck series by running them in select races in a Late Model car fielded by his Kyle Busch Motorsports team.
Byron is the least experienced of the group, having done most of his early racing online, but Busch believes he can overcome his late start.
“For as little experience as he has, he’s shown that he can do a good job and can run up front and win races,” Busch said. “He just started racing literally three years ago, but he’s moved up the ladder quite quickly and has a great sponsor behind him that helps support him.”
Last year, Byron, who once raced Legends cars on the quarter-mile track at AMS, won the championship of the K&N Pro Series East division, a developmental series that features cars somewhat like those in the upper NASCAR divisions. Busch said that while other K&N champions have faltered after trying to step up the NASCAR ladder he doesn’t see Byron suffering a similar fate.
“William has the talent to do it. I’m looking forward to this year seeing him succeed and move on up,” he said.
As for Bell, he’s already won a truck race, last year on the dirt at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway, but he has limited experience on pavement. Busch has addressed that by running Bell in Late Models, and he said Bell showed promise in several truck series starts late last year.
“He ran fifth at Iowa Speedway, but struggled a little bit on the mile-and-a-half tracks,” Busch said. “Getting used to the aero side of these trucks is a big, big deal. These guys lean on me to learn a lot of that, and they will continue to do so I’m sure.”
Busch also expects his drivers to learn from him about the off-track duties of a race driver, things such as dealing with sponsors, media and fans.
“I think William is already very good at it,” Busch said. “Actually he kind of enjoys it. Christopher absolutely hates it, but he’s got to get used to it all — the sponsor stuff and media stuff. He just wants to put his head down, put his helmet on and get in his car and go.”
Busch said that he is uniquely qualified to help his young drivers navigate the media and sponsor waters, and did his part to work with Jones last year.
“I feel like I’m one of the best to give the advice because I was really, really bad at it in the beginning, and now I feel like I’m pretty good at it,” he said. “I’ve come a long ways.”