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Kyle Busch set for Langley debut in Hamlin Showdown

Matt Sullivan | Getty Images for NASCAR

Kyle Busch will be in unfamiliar territory on Thursday night during the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Langley Speedway.

Sure, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion moonlights in Late Models all across the country when his schedule allows, but this is a different environment than his fleet of Super Late Models. In addition to never having raced at Langley, this is also a rare one-off for the 32-year-old in a Late Model Stock Car.

Busch has owned a Late Model Stock for several years, but didn’t get in it very often, prompting him to sell the car to his Kyle Busch Motorsports crew chief, Marcus Richmond. That’s the car Busch will drive on Thursday in the charity race with Richmond calling the shots on a Truck Series off-weekend.

“Those cars are just so different from what I grew up driving and I’m not very familiar with them,” Busch said. “Denny was there testing and I was there. Denny got his car going pretty good and I jumped in his car and it was just a completely different feel from what my car was, and his car was faster so I tried to work on mine to make it better and get some of that feel that I wanted from Denny’s car and I just could never find it.

“I’m not sure exactly what it takes to get there.”

His last start in a Late Model Stock came in the 2014 Hamlin Showdown, finishing fourth at South Boston Speedway to track regulars Matt Bowling, Matt Waltz and Nick Smith. This will be his first start at Langley.

Busch has been on a roll in short track racing, having won the Snowball Derby in December to snap a four-year Super Late Model winless streak. He followed that up with a victory in the Winter Showdown and Kern County Raceway in California. On Monday, he won the rain-delayed Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

As if often the case with Busch, he wants to give back to the grassroots community, but he wants to win, too.

“It’s fun just to get back to the short tracks and it’s a short track that I’ve never been to so that’s certainly compelling,” Busch said. “Denny I don’t think raced there much when he was younger — just a little bit and it’s going to be cool to get back there with a bunch of the Late Model Stock guys that are great across the east coast and race against them.

“That’s what it’s all about and the charity aspect and everything that Denny is trying to do with the Denny Hamlin Foundation and the children that he supports. Hopefully it’s a good night for all of us.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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