Monday, March 13, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Before Las Vegas native Kyle Busch climbs into his No. 18 Toyota he pauses for a moment with his wife, Samantha, and son Brexton.
Standing in the infield of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, amidst the roar of the fans and the Air Force flyover, Busch holds 1-year-old Brexton in his arms and leans into Samantha to say a quick prayer.
He hands his son to Samantha and jumps into the racecar, but not before a high five and a kiss from Brexton.
Once the drivers start their engines, Brexton heads back to the team RV and Samantha takes her seat on pit row. Like the wives of many NASCAR drivers, Samantha prefers to be directly in the middle of the race day action. She sits alongside Busch’s crew chief with her own set of headphones to listen to the communication between Busch and his crew throughout the race.
Being that close has its benefits.
“When he’s up in first place going for the win and there are only 10 laps to go my heart is beating like crazy,” Samantha said.
Busch is familiar with victory lane. The 31-year-old Durango High graduate has won 38 races in NASCAR’s top series over the last 14 years. The crowning achievement of his career was winning the Sprint Cup Series Championship in 2015, but his wife says a weekend in 2010 was her most memorable moment on pit row.
“In Bristol when he completed the triple-header was so cool,” Samantha said. “Just the fact that he was with three different teams on three different nights with different competition and was able to win all of them. It was such a memorable moment.”
Busch completed a three-day sweep of Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2010 by winning the Camping World Truck Series on Wednesday, the Nationwide Series on Friday and the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday.
It’s not always fun watching her husband race, and today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a perfect example. On the final lap of the Kobalt 400 Busch was in third place when Joey Logano rear-ended him, sending his car skidding into the pits. Martin Truex Jr. took the checkered flag and Logano finished fourth.
Immediately following the race, Busch confronted Logano in the pits and a fistfight ensued.
“I got dumped. He flat out just drove me straight into the corner and wrecked me,” Busch told FOX as he stormed off the track with blood streaming down his face. “That’s how Joey races so he’s going to get it.”
It’s not surprising moments like that put Samantha on edge.
“It’s pretty nerve-racking,” Samantha said. “There are places like Daytona and Talladega where you are like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ and on edge the whole time.”
Sunday’s last-lap wreck was a minor one, but Busch and Samantha have been through more serious ones.
“Years ago we made a pact that if Kyle wrecks and the spotter asks if he’s ok, Kyle gets on the radio as quickly as he can and says he’s alright,” Samantha said. “He knows that as soon as he can get to the radio he needs to respond.”
Two years ago at Daytona, Busch lost control and his car collided head on with an infield wall. Busch climbed out of the car and laid on the grass as medical personnel tended to him.
“That one was awful. It was just silent on the radio,” Samantha said. “When he doesn’t respond, like after that wreck, that’s when panic sets in.”
Luckily Busch has never been seriously injured during his career — nearly 10 years of which Samantha has watched from pit row. The two met while she was in college at Purdue. Samantha was working as a promotional model at the Indy 500 when the two exchanged numbers. They eventually got engaged and have been married for going on seven years.
Their son Brexton was born in May of 2015 and he now tours the country with his parents.
“We all travel 36 weeks out of the year and so many of the families bring our kids on the road and their parents to help watch them,” Samantha said. “In some of the motor home lots there are little parks and so many fun things to do.”
It’s far from an average family life, but its one Samantha wouldn’t trade for anything.
“It’s why NASCAR is the greatest sport. It’s so family oriented and family friendly,” Samantha said. “They let Brexton and I be out there during intros and during the National Anthem. We get to tell him good luck and that’s about all we can do right?”