As much as the pandemic virus has made this a season unlike no other in NASCAR, almost nearly as strange is that Kyle Busch has yet to win in 2020.
The two-time and reigning Cup Series champion gets another chance to make it 16 consecutive seasons in which he has won at least once in Sunday’s South Point 400 on his hometown track upon which winning also has been hard to come by.
His 2009 victory is his only victory in 18 starts at LVMS, and it still holds a place among his greatest racing hits.
“I used to put more stress on myself to win there, no doubt,” he said in anticipation of the second round of playoffs that will set the field of four drivers who will race for the championship at Phoenix Nov. 8. “I never knew if winning there would happen for me and it’s neat that I’ve been able to win in all three series (Cup, Xfinity, Truck).
Though it has been 11 years since Busch’s only Las Vegas victory he still likes to talks about it.
“When you come into your hometown, and we watched this place get built from nothing,” he said, “it means that extra more.”
Another win on Sunday also would lock Busch into the third round of three playoff races and show that last week’s second-place finish at Bristol, Tennessee, was no fluke. He led 159 laps and appeared headed for the victory before getting bogged down in traffic and passed by race winner Kevin Harvick during the final green flag segment.
The strong result helped Busch clinch the 10th playoff spot for the second round. Older brother Kurt, who also ran well at Bristol before encountering a wheel problem, earned the 12th and final second-round playoff spot. Kurt will be seeking his first Las Vegas win; the 2004 Cup Series champion is 0-for-21 at LVMS.
Whereas many drivers struggle to explain a slump, Kyle Busch said it’s relatively simple to pinpoint his biggest issue.
“I think we struggle in traffic, that’s our biggest problem,” he said about the part aerodynamics has played in his ability to advance from midpack.
He said that when he got out front in clear air during the playoff opener at Darlington, he felt extremely racy. Otherwise, he pretty much runs where he is until the pit stop shuffles begin.
“When I got up to second, I was able to restart with Martin Truex Jr. Truex and I ran really fast and drove away from the field,” Busch said. “If we can continue to evolve and get ourselves up a little bit higher, then hopefully that will bode well, too.”
Kyle Busch glance
Cup Series wins: 56
Cup Series championships: 2015, 2019
First race: 2004 UAW-DaimlyerChrysler 400 (Las Vegas Motor Speedway)
First win: 2005 Sony HD 500 (California Speedway)