Saturday, June 16, 2018

Kyle Busch Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Overview

Kyle Busch Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Overview

KBM Teammates Noah Gragson; Harrison Burton; Christian Eckes; and Todd Gilliland

  • Event: M&M’s 200, Race 9 of 23, 200 Laps – 60/60/80; 175 Miles
  • Location: Iowa Speedway in Newton (0.875-mile oval)
  • Date/Broadcast: June 16, 2018 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
Noah Gragson: No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass® Toyota - #NASCAR

Noah Gragson: No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass® Toyota

Noah Gragson and the Safelite AutoGlass Racing team head to Iowa Speedway for Saturday’s M&M’s 200. The 0.875-mile oval is a track where Gragson is very comfortable navigating his way around, having made three K&N Pro Series West starts there prior to his first Truck Series start last season. In his three K&N Pros Series West starts, the Las Vegas native posted an average finish of 3.6, including a runner-up finish in July of 2015. He used that experience to his advantage in the Truck Series last year, capturing the pole and leading 16 laps before ending the day with a sixth-place finish.

Noah Gragson, Driver Q&A

With three starts in the K&N Pro Series West and one in the Truck Series at Iowa, is it a track where you feel more comfortable at than some of the others on the schedule?

“I think racing at Iowa Speedway in the K&N car and having that K&N experience definitely helped me get the pole there last year in the Truck Series. Definitely really like that track — it’s a track where you have a lot of options as a driver. You can run the bottom, you can run the top, it has progressive banking, so it makes it a lot of fun with two and three-wide racing. It’s definitely one of my favorites.”

Is there a track that is comparable to Iowa Speedway?

“I feel like Kansas Speedway — especially this year because it has been aging — is like a big Iowa. You can run different lanes — I was able to run the bottom at Kansas and then we moved up to the wall. A lot of the same characteristics and shape of the race track can come into play with both places. We ran good at Kansas and now we are going short-track racing, which I really enjoy. Getting out there at Iowa Speedway, it’s a lot of fun and I’ve definitely had it circled on my calendar for a long time — since the season started.”

Harrison Burton: No. 51 Morton Buildings Toyota - #NASCAR

Harrison Burton: No. 51 Morton Buildings Toyota

Harrison Burton has one prior NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start at Iowa last year when he started 14th and finished 11th. He also finished third in ARCA Racing Series competition in 2016 and has one top-five finish (fourth in 2017) in two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts at the 0.875-mile oval.

Harrison Burton, Driver Q&A

Do you have more confidence heading into Iowa since you ran the NCWTS race there last year?  
“I think anytime you can get experience somewhere and then apply that you are going to be way better than where you were the first time. Everything is going to come together way easier and way smoother and you can get in a rhythm a little easier the second time around.”

How much easier will it be to focus on racing now that school is out for the summer? 

“It’s made my life a whole lot easier for sure. I don’t have to worry about doing homework on my way to the race track, or while I’m at the race track. I can focus on racing and prepare more ahead of time. I can watch race film instead of doing homework at night. I can start applying myself more in the gym and in the shop. It’s big relief to not worry about being at school everyday and instead focus on racing full time, which is awesome.”

Is it hard to race in so many different series with different types of vehicles, or is the overall experience a plus? 

“I think anytime you can get in a race car is a positive. Every lap you turn you have an opportunity to learn something and gain experience in any vehicle. If it has four wheels, gas and brake pedals then you are going to learn from it. You can race against the best drivers in each series and learn from them, whether it’s Kyle Busch or the track champion at the Super Late Model races. They are all hard to beat and you learn from them and try to get better.”

Christian Eckes: No. 46 Mobil 1™ Toyota - #NASCAR

Christian Eckes: No. 46 Mobil 1™ Toyota

Christian Eckes will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway Saturday as part of a four-race schedule driving a fourth entry for the organization. Mobil 1™ – the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand– will be the primary sponsor for the 17-year-old driver’s debut this weekend and will also adorn the hood of his No. 46 Tundra at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., June 23 and ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., Nov. 9. Eckes’ sponsor for his race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Oct. 27 will be named at a later date.

Christian Eckes, Driver Q&A

What have you done to prepare for your Truck Series debut?

“I’ve watched a lot of film and taken a lot of notes. I’ve really worked on me personally, because KBM’s trucks are always really good — it’s up to me now. I’ve done a lot to prepare myself to get ready for the race and really excited to get in my No. 46 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra.”

Does the fact that you’ve had two ARCA starts at Iowa make you more comfortable making your Truck Series debut there?

“Yeah — absolutely. I’ve raced there in ARCA twice now and had a great deal of success there. I’m really looking forward to getting to Iowa and getting to know my KBM guys some more and hopefully contending at Iowa.”

Do you have any goals set for this weekend?

“Hopefully a top-10 finish at the least. I’m really confident and hopeful in my debut to get a good finish for these guys and get ready for the races coming up.”

Todd Gilliland: No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Toyota - #NASCAR

Todd Gilliland: No. 4 JBL/SiriusXM Toyota

Todd Gilliland has two wins at Iowa Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (2016 & 2017) and he finished ninth in his only ARCA Racing Series start at Iowa in 2015. He and his No. 4 KBM team also spent two days testing at Iowa last month.

In four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) starts this season, Gilliland has three top-10 finishes and 63 laps led. He led a race-high 62 laps at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. Despite only competing in four of the eight races due to age restrictions, currently ranks 15th in the Truck Series championship standings and is 106 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Todd Gilliland, Driver Q&A

You have two wins at Iowa in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West competition. How much does that boost your confidence for the truck race?  

“That and we also had a really great test there a few weeks ago. I’ve got a lot of confidence going in there and hopefully we can carry some of the momentum we have from such a great run in Texas into Iowa.”

What did you work on during the test at Iowa last month? 

“We worked on getting the truck driving well. We were there for two days, so we got to run through a lot of stuff that maybe we could try at other short tracks as well. A lot of stuff has been different this year with the different tire compound, so we’re just trying to find what works best for our truck.”

Are you looking forward to getting back to a smaller track? 

“I’ve really had a lot of fun being able to venture onto the mile-and-half tracks and get more experience on that end, but being able to get back to the short tracks where I feel the most comfortable with the most experience — especially at a place like Iowa where Kyle Busch Motorsports has had so much success in the past — I think it should be a really great weekend.”

KBM drivers have collected three wins, three poles, 525 laps led, seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.0 across 21 starts at Iowa.

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