Kyle Busch’s goals this season have certainly changed, but a new one is taking shape and that’s a top 10 finish in the final NASCAR Cup Series points standings. Busch currently enters Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN) 14th in points, but just 41 back from 10th placed Daniel Suarez.
Busch’s initial goals are obviously a Daytona 500 win and a championship. Never happened. He was 6th in Daytona and for the first time ever, eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs. His other goal was to solidify his future in the sport.
He was a free agent at seasons end and without a sponsor. When the months turned to summer and the aspirations of staying with Joe Gibbs Racing started looking grim, his performance went down because there was a lot at stake here.
What would he do? What about his Truck Series team? What about all those lives affected by the people he employs at Kyle Busch Motorsports? Where will he race? What manufacturer will he race with and what does that do to KBM? All those distractions took away his focus on track.
It’s natural. It would happen to any of us.
It’s why he entered the middle of June with three straight top 3 finishes including 8 top 10’s in a 9 race span to having no top 5’s in the 16 races after.
However, since he’s found a landing spot for 2023 and beyond, the results have started to come back again. Busch finished 3rd in the Round of 12 cut race on the Charlotte ROVAL. He was 3rd again this past Sunday in Las Vegas. Is the momentum coming back around?
“We had a really fast M&M’s Toyota Camry TRD anyway,” Busch said after scoring his second straight top 5 finish on the season for consecutive weeks for the first time since May 29-June 5. “Not as good as the Penske guys. They really have a hold of this place. We worked on ours all day long and got it better.
“Certainly top-5 car and a good third-place finish. Just salvaged what we could there after a lot of ups and downs. Thanks to the guys. They had good pit stops all day. I left a little early on that one that we had a loose wheel, but all in all, we had a good recovery.”
This also gives him high hopes to get back inside of the top 10 in points too.
“It keeps us a good finish here and hopefully try to get back in the top 10 in points. That’s where it’s at,” Busch continued.
He’s finished in the top 10 in the final standings for 9 straight years now. The last time he didn’t was back in 2012. He finished 13th that year.
But with what’s up ahead, I don’t see any reason he’d slow down now.
Busch has six Top-6 finishes in his last seven starts at Homestead including four of which in the top four. Then it’s to Martinsville to where he has 13 Top-10 finishes in his last 14 at Martinsville including a runner-up last Halloween.
Finally, it’s a wrap up at Phoenix to where he’s typically a top 10 threat there too.
It could shape up a good end to his season and his tenure with JGR..