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Has Kyle Busch fixed that brake problem that doomed him last season at Martinsville?


Kyle Busch is the hottest driver in NASCAR right now (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Is the Sprint Cup series becoming the Busch series…as in Busch brothers, who have won three straight, Kyle at Las Vegas, Kurt at Atlanta, and Kyle again at Bristol?
   Kyle Busch as the next Dale Earnhardt?
   Yeah, that story brought us a few emails.
   Kyle Busch, the man bounced two years ago by car owner Rick Hendrick, in order to hire Dale Earnhardt Jr., says he's naturally happy to be outperforming the man who replaced him at Hendrick's – Earnhardt has won only once at Hendrick's, and that was a gas-mileage win last summer at Michigan, while Busch won eight times on the Cup tour last season, and he's already won at Las Vegas and Bristol this season.
   "But that's not what racing is all about," Busch insists, downplaying things when pressed about the Busch-Earnhardt comparisons.
   After winning Bristol last weekend, Busch was pushed about comparisons with the late Earnhardt, and he made short reference to Dale Jr.'s relative lack of success lately and the burden of being the legend's son.
    If Busch can follow that Bristol win with a good run here, well, that could be another step toward a championship.
   And Busch, remember, is just 23; Earnhardt didn't win his first title till he was 29.
   Plenty of upside potential here.
   But first – what's the deal on all those blown tires here last year?
   Too much brake-heat, Busch says. But he thinks he's now fixed that issue.
  Nevertheless in Sunday's Martinsville 500 the edge will likely be with Dale Jr., who whipped Busch head-to-head in both events here last year, sixth in the spring (to Busch's 38th), second in the fall (to Busch's 29th).
   Busch feels he and crew chief Steve Addington have solved the brake-heat problem that dogged them here last year, excessive brake heat that blew out the tire's sealing bead.
   Was it a change in Busch's driving style, or a change in technology?
   Hard-charging here tends to overheat brakes.
   "It's technical," Busch says.
   "There are different brake-pad compounds and combinations you can run that stop harder, sooner, faster. But they build so much more heat, and keep heat into the rotors -- which the rotors transfer to the bead.
     "We had to go to work to figure out what was going on, because (teammate) Denny Hamlin didn't have that problem last year. 
    "He had a different brake-pad combination.
    "So we've worked with Alcon and Raybestos to come with a new package. They've done a tremendous amount of testing with us, and they've spent a lot of money trying to help us.
   "We're on the right path. Hopefully this weekend we can showcase our new short-track and road-course package."
   So this could be an ominous weekend for his rivals if Busch runs well….because he cleaned house last year at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

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