OXFORD — When Kyle Busch was offered a hat with the TD Bank 250 logo on it Thursday afternoon, he politely declined.
He felt obligated to wear his sponsor's hat but offered up a compromise.
"How about you give it to me in Victory Lane and I'll wear it then?" said Busch.
The current NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader is making his third appearance at Oxford Plains Speedway this year to race in the 250 Sunday, July 24. He was at the speedway Thursday to test drive a car built by Dale Shaw and prepped by Seth Holbrook and T.J. Brackett.
"It's a brand new race car," said Busch. "We're just trying to work the bugs out of it and see if there's anything we need to work on with limited practice time when we come up here for the weekend."
Busch raced in 2005 and 2006. He led the race twice in his first try for a total of 61 laps. The following year, he was making a move to take the lead only to watch his engine blow in the middle of the race. He put on a show that year by moving up in both the heat races and main event, telling his crew that OPS owner Bill Ryan should pay him for each car he passed.
It's that kind of experience at the smaller tracks around the country that entice him back. He just won a Late Model race in Slinger, Wis., last Sunday.
"I grew up racing the local short track stuff — a little beating and a little banging," said Busch. "You try to win every race you possibly can. I've been able to do that with the Late Models around the country and looking forward to try and do that at Oxford Plains Speedway."
After racing in Ontario Wednesday night, Busch came to Maine before heading to New Hampshire where he'll race in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 this weekend.
Working the kinks out of the car was slow going Thursday, but he was making progress.
"I know what we need," said Busch. "I know what we're looking for. So I'm not out here just kind of running around. When we unloaded, we were eight-tenths slower than we are right now. So we've picked up some time, but it's always that next step that you work really hard at but might not get to."
His familiarity with track gives him a little advantage than when he first raced in 2005 with little knowledge of the track or the competition. Back then, he relied on local favorites like Mike Rowe to give him advice.
"At least I'm not really learning the race track," he said. "I've run a lot of laps at other short tracks around the country. It wouldn't take me long to learn the place but to have a familiar feel for it helps. I just know what to expect and what I want out of the car."
That helped in the testing of his new ride Thursday. He still had to familiarize himself with the venue, but it all came back quickly.
"It just takes time to understand the track a little bit and understand where the curves are and how guys drive around the place and what they look for," said Busch. "It's a matter of getting familiar with the basics again."
Busch will even have a few more laps under his tires when he races in the 250. He is coming up a day early to compete in the Brackett Mechanical/RB Performance PASS 150 on Saturday, July 23.
"I'm coming up anyway," said Busch, who'll bring his own car for that event. "So I might as well run the night before. These are my cars. So I'm really familiar with them. I look forward to racing and getting a few more laps."
Busch has already won three races this year and has 99 NASCAR wins. Taking No. 100 and maintaining his lead in the Sprint Cup standings would be a good lead-in to his appearances in Oxford.
"We'd love to win at Loudon and that would make 100," said Busch. "We feel like we're a lock for the chase. Once we get started in the final 10 races, we want to get some wins there."