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Busch Coming to Grips With Lexus RC F GT3

NASCAR star Kyle Busch on his first laps in AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3…

Photo: Lexus Racing/Sideline Sports Photography

Kyle Busch says that he’s had to get his “get rid” of his NASCAR driving techniques in coming to grips with the Lexus RC F GT3 that he will race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion turned his first laps in the AIM Vasser Sullivan-run Lexus in Friday’s opening test session at the Roar Before the Rolex 24

While co-driver Jack Hawksworth posted the quickest time of the GT Daytona class in the session, Busch came within 1.5 seconds of the Englishman after completing just 14 laps in the car.

“Jack did the first run and had an opportunity to shake it down a bit and I got my turn at the wheel and was able to run some pretty decent times… that’s what the guys said anyway,” Busch said.

“I haven’t seen a lot of the data or the lap times but there’s certainly a lot to improve on still.

“I’ve got my NASCAR driving techniques embedded in my brain and I’ve got to get rid of those a bit more. I’m getting more accustomed to what this car can take and what the driving techniques are.

“There are certainly a lot of differences between the two vehicles.”

Busch said the braking ability of the Lexus, which features ABS, has been the “biggest adjustment” he’s had to make compared to the 3,500-pound Toyota Camry NASCAR Cup entry.

“I’m used to our big, heavy stock cars where you have to start the slow-down process way early and the braking zone lasts forever,” he said.

“By the time you turn in, you’ve got to be off the brakes because otherwise the inside wheels will lock up and you’ll skid the tires.

“We also have to take care of the brakes on the Cup cars because the cars are so heavy. You can really overheat them and create soft-pedal and things like that.

“There are completely different techniques you have to work with on these cars.

“You can drive the snot out of them. You can just throw it into the corners as hard as you feel like you can get in there and stomp the pedal as hard as your left will allow you to do it.

“It’s completely different in that aspect, but lines and driving around the track is pretty relative to what the car feels like for its weight.

“I was definitely getting more comfortable and pushing more and more.

“On my last lap, I threw it into the Bus Stop 50 feet past where Jack was. That was too far.

“In the next session, I can get my chance to fine-tune my marks a little bit more and get more finesse.”

Busch, who will share the No. 14 Lexus with Hawksworth, Parker Chase and Michael de Quesada in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, said he was also surprised by the lack of setup options. 

FIA GT3 regulations limit the level of adjustments compared to other platforms.

“I’m already trying to set up the car,” Busch said. “We’re talking about the car, it’s got understeer here and oversteer here. Those sorts of things.

“I suggested us going softer and they said, ‘It’s as soft as we can get’. So I said, ‘Well that ain’t soft enough!’

“So there are definitely some things to these cars and what these guys are doing that I feel like the NASCAR teams and engineers are pretty sophisticated and advanced.

“These guys are pretty smart too, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard that we’re as soft as we can go.

“You always think of different ways of being able to engineer something.

“Obviously, there’s a rulebook as well, so I have no familiarity with anything of that, so I could be totally off-base to what my team knows.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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