MONTREAL - The NAPA Auto Parts 200 will have many accomplished NASCAR drivers that could serve as motivation for Kyle Busch, including his closest rival in the Nationwide Series, Carl Edwards.
But after taking his first couple of spins around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Thursday, Busch said one of the drivers he's most looking forward to facing at the August 30 event is someone with almost no NASCAR pedigree, local hero Jacques Villeneuve.
"The history of the track surrounds his father, but it's his family name so he's deemed to run well here," Busch said of the Iberville, Que., native, who will be driving the No. 32 Toyota Camry for Braun Racing.
"Everyone expects him to come here and win the race, it's his name on the facility. But if you have a good car you have the capability of winning, if you don't have a good car you don't. It should be fun to race with him. I've talked with him a few times and he's a cool guy. It should be cool to race against him."
The official confirmation Thursday that Busch will be in Montreal should help ticket sales for the event, especially since local racing fans were deprived of the Canadian Grand Prix Formula 1 race this year.
Race promoter Francois Dumontier says he's happy with the response to this point, though he wouldn't get into any specific figures.
"I will not give a number, but I can say it's pretty good," Dumontier said. "For the third year of the event, we can see compared to the same period of time in other years that we're doing pretty well."
Busch goes into this weekend's Nationwide and Sprint Cup series races in Watkins Glen as the Nationwide series leader, but sitting outside of a spot for the Sprint Chase with five races to go before the cut-off.
Busch has three wins on the Sprint Cup series this year but has only one top 10 finish in his last nine starts, while in the Nationwide series he has six second place finishes in his last eight races.
The lack of top podium finishes is not something that sits well with Busch.
"My personality might be different from what people are accustomed to, or what they'd like to see out of a sports figure," Busch said. "But that's my passion for the sport. I drive to be a winner and to be a champion ultimately."
Busch said he was familiar with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve through playing Formula 1 video games and watching the Canadian Grand Prix in past years, but once he was done driving a street car around the track Thursday he was a little surprised at the confined quarters.
"Man, that's tight, that's really going to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up," Busch said as he got out of the car. "When you get going around here things are going to start going by you a lot faster and you'll start to get tunnel vision. It'll be fun, there are a lot of long straightaways with tight corners. It's definitely a lot narrower than I expected it to be."
Busch has a reputation as a bit of a rogue driver in NASCAR and his aggressiveness on the track has polarized him as either a hero or villain. Combine that with the tight track, and there could be some fireworks at the NAPA Auto Parts 200.