Kyle Busch had himself a quietly good first round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. He was seventh at Darlington, sixth at Richmond and second at Bristol. Still, he’s not confident in his teams’ ability to make it to the Championship 4 for the sixth time in seven years.
“We’ll be eliminated next round,” Busch said after his runner up in the Bristol night race.
The last time a driver went back-to-back in terms of NASCAR Cup Series championships was Jimmie Johnson during his five year reign from 2006 through 2010. In the nine years since, seven different drivers have all won titles. Johnson (2013, 2016) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019) are the only repeat winners in that time frame.
Furthermore, since 1995, Jeff Gordon (1997, 1998) and Johnson (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) are the only ones to earn back-to-back Cup titles.
Busch was hoping to be just the third driver in the last 25 years to do so this season. Unfortunately, following a strong opening half of the year, he doesn’t look like a legitimate championship contender anymore.
The next round isn’t good for him anyways. He has four playoff points to carry with him after his stage win on Saturday night. Half of his last six Vegas finishes he came home 15th or worse. He was 19th last year and 12th this past spring there.
Then it’s to Talladega to where he has two top fives since 2014 there. After that it’s to the ROVAL to where his two starts on that track, he’s finished 32nd and 37th respectively. He was 37th on the Daytona road course last month too.
Add that up and he’s right about seeing his playoff hopes dashed next round.
That’s why he wanted a win so badly on Saturday. It would have given him five more playoff points.
“Frustrated over finishing second,” Busch said. “You know, just felt like this was one of our greater shots to win, and I don’t know. You know, just come up short.
“You know, Skittles Camry was fast and we had a good car, one that was in contention all night long. Fired off the start of the race, I was like, oh, wow, this is a pretty good car and then got beat by another really good car, I guess. Yeah, that’s all there is to it.”