Kyle Busch Has New Role for Shootout
With a dramatic increase in the demand for his time, Busch knew he would no longer be able to compete in the 10-week Hardee's Summer Shootout Series which runs on Tuesday nights on the frontstretch quarter-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Not wanting to park his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Legends Car, Busch decided to hire a young driver. He selected 15-year-old Alex Haase, a fellow Las Vegas resident who is following the same career path that took Busch to Hendrick Motorsports and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
"I see a lot of talent in him and a lot of the attributes that a driver needs," Busch said about his new driver. "In one of the first starts of his career, I watched him flip his car and it didn't spook him at all. He went straight into the garage and simply asked what he needed to do to fix the car for the next race."
Haase finished 16th and fifth in the first two rounds of the Hardee's Summer Shootout's Centex Homes Legends Car Pro division, and appears to be adapting to the pressure of driving for one of stock car racing's hottest stars.
"It definitely puts pressure on me because he is a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver," Haase said. "People look at me and say 'that's Kyle Busch's driver.' You have to perform, so I am trying my best out there."
Busch, however, says he's not the one putting pressure on Haase.
"I just want him to run consistent lap times and to finish up front if we can," Busch explained. "We haven't had the best luck with the field draws, and it is hard to do well when you are starting back in the pack. We are also still working to build the driver and crew chief relationship because I haven't worked with Alex from that standpoint.
"I actually drove the car during a recent practice session and remembered a few tricks of the trade," Busch continued. "So I went back to the pit area and told Alex what I could. The next time he took the car around the track, he was running my same lap times."
Even though he won the NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Busch has yet to visit victory lane in the Hardee's Summer Shootout.
"I really want to get that first win and hopefully Alex can get it for me," Busch said.
While Busch and Haase have only known each other since Haase started racing in 1999, their fathers have been acquainted for nearly 25 years. It was Haase's father who launched his son's racing career when he purchased a Bandolero six years ago.
Climbing into the cockpit at age 9, Haase made rapid progress and moved up to the Legends Car ranks in 2002 where he won the Nevada State Semi-Pro division championship. In addition to competing in this year's Hardee's Summer Shootout, Haase is also racing in the California-based ASA Speed Truck Challenge Series where he finished third in the most recent event and stands seventh in the point standings.
Haase has aspirations of following Busch's tire tracks to the NEXTEL Cup circuit.
"That's my goal. It's what I'm working on," he said. "I'm taking classes so I can graduate early and purse the career I've always wanted."
The Hardee's Summer Shootout features three classes of Bandolero racing, three divisions of Legends Cars and the popular Thunder Roadsters. More than 200 cars are expected to jam the pit area each Tuesday night through Aug. 16.
Admission is just $5 for adults. Children 6 to 12 are admitted for $3 with kids under 6 free. Tickets are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free. Contact the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com for information.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action at 5:30 p.m. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and is scheduled to conclude by 10:15 p.m.