All five races this season have been won by Chevrolet and Ford. When you factor in the three exhibition races at the start of the year, Toyota is actually zero for eight. The last win for the foreign manufacturer came in the playoffs last season when Denny Hamlin won at Darlington.

The top Toyota driver this season is actually Hamlin’s newest employee, Kurt Busch. The 23XI Racing driver is currently 5th in the championship standings heading into today’s race at Circuit of the Americas. Busch didn't start the season off strong with a 19th place finish at Daytona, but he has been solid ever since.

After an 8th place finish at Fontana, Busch led laps in Las Vegas before finishing 13th. He has recorded back-to-back top-five finishes at Phoenix and last weekend at Atlanta, where he finished 3rd in his No. 45 Toyota. The veteran has been the perfect addition to this team, getting their second full-time car up to speed quickly.

While Bubba Wallace has struggled after Daytona, his teammate has thrived with three top-ten finishes, which is tied for the most this season. Busch's 21.6 average starting position ranks 25th but he has the best average finishing position (9.6) among all drivers in the Cup Series.

Busch will be making his 50th career road course start this afternoon in Austin, Texas.

Although he has never been considered a great road course driver, Busch does have 14 top-five finishes with 284 laps led in those type of races. He has finished in the top-five at Sonoma seven times, including a win in 2011. He has a runner-up finish at Watkins Glen and started on pole and finished 5th in the first race on the Charlotte Roval in 2018, and finished 4th there in 2020.

Looking at his results last year with Chip Ganassi Racing, Busch finished 6th on the IMS road course at Indianapolis after starting in 20th position. He started 16th at Road America and came through the field to finish 4th. He had similar results on the Daytona road course, starting 17th and finishing 4th.

Those are impressive performances, especially when you consider all of the teams he has driven for. “I’ve been with different teams, but I’ve also been blessed to be with quality teams, and this team is no different,” said Busch, who starts 11th today.

Although they are their own separate team, Busch admits that their alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing has been a major key to their success. “We’re a sister team to JGR so I look at it as there are six Toyotas that go to the track to win. And that’s the feeling, that’s the setting, and that’s the tone we have with the 23 car and the 45 car right now.”

Last weekend was a microcosm of their season so far. “The way our Monster team continues to not give up and learn from each situation — our main goal (at Atlanta) was to run all 500 miles, and the car had a couple scratches on it, but we were out there for every run.” This is a team that does not give up, and it paid off handsomely last weekend.

“It’s really cool for our program,” Kurt said. “Was a good West Coast swing. Not so much on points with Stage 1 and Stage 2, but our finishes were there, and we will keep chiseling away.” With that attitude flowing throughout the 23XI Racing garage, it won't be long before Busch finds victory lane once again.

Busch has 33 career Cup wins, and has won at least one race every year since the 2014 season. Now in his 22nd year, he finds himself in a familiar position. He put Furniture Row Racing on the map in 2013, then took over Jamie McMurray's ride at Ganassi in 2019. He provided results immediately and gave the team some of their best moments.

The value of Kurt is very clear. His experience, leadership, and maturity as a driver are major reasons why 23XI Racing wanted him in their second car. His presence inside the car and out have this team on the right track, and should have Toyota back in victory lane soon.

Last year's race at COTA was run in the rain. It also utilized the old car. With so many changing variables, and only one race to go on, it is anyone's guess as to who will come away with the checkered flag later today. Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano will be the favorites to win, but don't sleep on the driver of the No. 45 Toyota.