Kyle Busch said a lot of nice things about big brother Kurt during media day for Sunday’s South Point 400 NASCAR playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He’s just not sure he would want to trade paint with him in the race that decides the 2019 championship.
“I think he’s done a fantastic job of switching teams once again, and being able to elevate that team he’s gone to to a new level,” said the 2015 Cup Series champion, who won four regular-season races and has earned the top seed heading into stock car racing’s 10-race playoffs. “The (No.) 1 (car) being able to get back to Victory Lane — it’s been so long and Kurt won this year. So that’s pretty cool, and they’ve been really fast.”
But what about racing Kurt for the championship in Homestead, Florida, on Nov. 17, should the Las Vegas brothers make it to NASCAR’s final four?
“Racing against him for a title at the end of the day would be pretty exciting,” Kyle said smiling wryly, as if recalling some of his past battles with big brother, not all of which were amicable. “I’m not sure how that would work out in the end. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Each brother is seeking his second series title. But whereas Kurt, who won in 2004, hasn’t been a factor recently, Kyle is seeking his fifth consecutive final round appearance.
“You don’t ever lose that drive and that desire to (win) No. 2 or No. 3,” said Kyle, a 9-to-2 favorite Sunday to earn his second win in 17 starts on his hometown track. “Think about it: I made it there four years in a row, and if I would have won it four years in a row, we’d be talking about a whole different dynasty right now.”
With a cushion of regular-season bonus points in his pocket, Kyle is a good bet to make the final race for a fifth consecutive time.
“So it would certainly be nice to get those accomplishments when you’re given those opportunities and they’re right there in front of you,” said the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
At 34, Kyle is in the prime of his career. But with NASCAR gradually evolving into a younger driver’s game and the whimsical nature of playoff racing sometimes deciding who wins, attaining multiple championships seems more difficult than when he was breaking in.
“If I could get a handful of ’em, I’d say that probably has been a successful career,” said Kyle, who ranks ninth all time and second among active drivers with 55 career wins.
“Years ago if you had asked me that question, I would have said seven or eight. Right now, I’d probably say five.”