FEBRUARY 24, 2009
In a perfect world
The expected announcement of a US-based Formula 1 team has led to much speculation about possible drivers. There has been some fairly obvious talk about Danica Patrick and a few other mutterings about open-wheeler drivers who have made some impression in Europe, such as Jonathan Summerton. There has even been talk of NASCAR star Kyle Busch. That would be interesting but he is signed to Joe Gibbs Racing until the end of 2010 so that is not very likely to happen as Gibbs will want to protect his investment. Busch would also be very expensive as his performances in NASCAR in the last 12 months have been spectacular and his value is rising all the time. There is no doubt that he would like to try out a Formula 1 car because he was due to test a Toyota in Japan at the end of last year and was unimpressed when NASCAR insisted that he attend the prizegiving for one of its minor championships, which made this impossible.
"We'll see how well I test first, we'll see if my neck can stand the g-forces of braking and everything," he said when the test was first mentioned. "I wouldn't mind. If I can do it and if I'm good at it then I'll give it a shot and try it."
Busch has been racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup since 2004 when he did six races with Hendrick Motorsports. He won his first Cup race a year later at the California Speedway, becoming the youngest-ever winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, at 20 years and 125 days. He followed that with a second victory two months afterwards at Phoenix and was named Rookie of the Year. In 2006 he was a frontrunner but ended the year 10th in the championship. He continued with Hendrick in 2007 but in July Hendrick announced it was signing up Dale Earnhardt Jr and Busch found himself looking for work, ending up at Joe Gibbs, for which he won eight Cup races, nine Nationwide races and three Truck Series races in 2008, making himself the man with the most NASCAR wins in the season. Last weekend in California he kicked off his 2009 account with wins in the Truck and Nationwide Series and third place in the Cup race. And he is a character as well.