‘I love his fire’: Kyle Busch addition to RCR pushes 2018 Daytona 500 champ

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Austin Dillon loves Daytona International Speedway, which makes sense given his victories in the 2018 Daytona 500 and last August’s Coke Zero Sugar 400.

Kyle Busch? He won the 400 here in 2008 but doesn’t hold the same affinity for the track.

“So we’re going to try and make it one of his favorite places,” Dillon said Wednesday during Daytona 500 Media Day.

That’s Item No. 1 on their to-do list as brand-new teammates. After 15 years with Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch joined Richard Childress Racing before this season, pairing him with Dillon as the team’s only Cup Series drivers. 

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Dillon helped recruit Busch to RCR last summer. They’ve been competitors since Dillon made his first appearance on NASCAR’s highest level in 2011.

“I think it, obviously, pushes me,” Dillon said. “I love the push that he brings. I definitely want to step up our level for the No. 3 team and compete each and every week to push him. I think the cool part about Kyle, he’s a Hall of Famer. For him, there’s only one thing he looks at and that’s how he can win a race. He’s not worried about what I’m doing.”

Dillon finished 11th in last season’s point standings, slotting him two spots above Busch at 13. Each grabbed one victory.

In their first appearance as partners, Dillon took second and Busch third at The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race earlier this month.

“Obviously, his credentials are way higher than mine,” Dillon said. “But we think about racecars the same …

“He’s a competitor. I love his drive, his fire. He does not like to lose. He’s all about winning. In that, he puts in a lot of effort to do that and a lot of behind-the-scenes things go on to make sure we’re prepared to get to the track. I’m excited.”

Which leads them to this weekend’s 500, the beginning of the regular season and a new era at RCR. 

The team hasn’t claimed a Cup championship since Dale Earnhardt in 1994 nor had a driver place in the top 10 in the final standings since 2015. Its leadership hopes that changes with the Dillon-Busch duo.

“How do we take RCR to the next level?” Dillon said. “That’s consistently getting multiple wins, and multiple wins is what it takes to win a championship. You’ve got to win more than once, so for me, that’s the goal.”

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