Las Vegas native Kyle Busch feels right at home in New Hampshire

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 19: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, walks to his car during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2019 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

New Hampshire Motor Speedway may be a long way from Kyle Busch’s native Las Vegas, but the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has developed a fondness for the Magic Mile and its environs, dating to his days of racing Late Models.

“I love coming up here,” Busch said Friday at NHMS. “I’ve got a lot of friends from the area. I’ve raced over at Thunder Road (Barre, Vermont) before. I’ve race over at Oxford (Maine) before, so I’ve been around this area a little bit racing the short tracks and stuff.

“A few of those friends come on over here sometimes and visit a little bit, so that’s good.”

Then there’s the racing itself at the one-mile flat track. Busch got the third of his 55 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories at Loudon in 2006, driving for Rick Hendrick. He won again during his 2015 championship season and once more in 2017, both in the No. 18 JGR Toyota.

Small wonder Busch relishes his trips to New England.

“I enjoy coming to New Hampshire,” he said. “This has been a pretty successful place for us. We tend to qualify well here, race well here. We’ve won here a couple of times. We’ve been kind of the car to beat, one of the guys to beat here for about, I don’t know, the last two, three, four years maybe.

“Sometimes guys really, really hit on it, and the they’re better than us, (but) we’re just always consistently good here. So hopefully we can keep that pattern going at least and be consistently good here again, but maybe we can hit on it better than somebody else and try to win.”

Greg Engle