Kyle Busch has had a spectacular Nationwide Series season. With six races remaining, he has six wins and his first NASCAR championship in sight with a 245-point lead over second-place Carl Edwards. But Busch doesn't find his performance completely satisfying. He's tired of finishing second.
Busch has been runner-up ten times, matching the record set by Jack Ingram in 1983, including last week to Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Joey Logano at Kansas Speedway. Busch has been second in five of the past ten races since winning at Gateway on July 18, and he didn't hide his feelings about it.
“It is frustrating,” Busch said. “We had a great racecar. We were good in the points. I've only done that about 12 times this year, so it ain't the first time and it certainly ain't going to be the last time. We're looking for wins. I'd love to break that (single-season) win record, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen this year.”
Busch can break out of his runner-up rut Saturday in the Copart 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, a track where he has dominated with back-to-back victories in his last two races. Busch led 143 of 150 laps in February and 144 in August 2008.
Busch's ten wins in 30 races last season tied Sam Ard's single-season record set in 1983. He would have to win five of the last six to surpass it. This much is certain: Busch will try. He doesn't race to run second.
“We're looking for wins,” he said.
Logano's win at Kansas was particularly galling to Busch, who led 173 of 200 laps. It was the fourth time this season Busch has finished second to Logano, who has passed him in the final 25 laps in all four. Logano is also entered in a Gibbs Toyota this weekend.
Busch also won the Camping World Truck Series race at Fontana in February, becoming the first to win two NASCAR national series races on the same day. It also was the track where he won his first Sprint Cup race in 2005. Busch and Mark Martin are the two drivers to have won in all three divisions there.
“It's pretty cool because I've only been able to add a couple other racetracks this year,” Busch said. “California and Phoenix were the first ones, but I think there's six total (with wins in Cup, Nationwide and trucks) now. It's cool, especially with Mark Martin being the only other guy to be able to do it there.”
Busch's history at Fontana also includes being kicked out, for no fault of his own. In 2001, at age 16, he had practiced for the truck race, a companion event with the CART Champ Car Series, but was prevented from racing because of concerns his participation might violate the agreement between the racing industry and the state attorneys general regarding tobacco sponsorship. The CART race had tobacco sponsorship. Busch was stripped of his credential in the garage and escorted out.
“California is a strange place in my heart because I remember my first truck race I came here for, I got kicked out,” Busch said. “So, the first truck race I was actually able to run (in 2008) I won and I got my first Cup win there, too. Those were both pretty neat.”
by Tim Tuttle