Kyle Busch Vies for Second Sprint Cup Title

For a driver whose nickname is “Rowdy,” it’s safe to say Kyle Busch’s approach with defending his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships is quite the opposite.

While subdued might be a bit extreme to describe is demeanor, how the 31-year-old will take to the 1.5-mile Homestead Miami Speedway today will be much like his stellar Cup career: focused on beating the competition with confidence.

“You know, there’s going to be plenty of reasons as to why we can be beat and plenty of reasons as to why we can beat the rest of them,” Busch said.  “It’s just a matter of how it all comes down to performance on Sunday and being able to be right on top of things as the race goes on and all the way to the end.”

Much has been said about the storied comeback by Busch last year, as he overcame his injuries sustained during the NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona, overall winning five times and topping the likes of Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, and Martin Truex Jr to win the Cup.

Chasing down a dream.

Chasing down a dream.

This year, some of the talk has been focused between the finish to the spring race at Richmond, an event in which Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards used the old chrome horn move on Busch for the win.  As Edwards basked in his second win of the season at the time, Busch wasn’t too pleased to say the least.

Although time heals all wounds, make no mistake that Busch is ready to even the score should the title come down between himself and his ally.

All said, Busch has acknowledged how his life has changed since his championship season in 2015, pointing out how it’s impacted him on and off the track.

“I mean, it’s certainly changed since last year, since not being a champion to then being a Sprint Cup Series champion, so certainly there’s some change in that,” Busch remarked.  “How has that change been?  It’s been really good.

I feel like maybe on the racetrack you get an extra four inches instead of one inch from particular people, but it also depends on what lap it’s on, so when it comes down to the end of the race, it’s pretty much every man for himself all the time, but just having that accolade and being a part of the sport, having recognition from other champions come up to you with the likes of Darrell Waltrip or Dale Jarrett or Rusty Wallace, those guys that come put their arm around you and tell you welcome-to-the-club type thing.”

Kyle Busch has one factor going for him today: experience. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Racing Experts)

Kyle Busch has one factor going for him today: experience. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/The Racing Experts)

Heading to Homestead-Miami, Busch has put up numbers that’s on pace with 2015, with four wins (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, and Indianapolis), 17 top-fives, and 24 top-10’s.

If last year was any indication, the champion for 2016 will likely have to win Sunday’s season finale, a feat Busch accomplished to hoist the most prized trophy in stock car racing.

Observing last year’s Chase battle, Busch hopes to apply what he noted with the title defense put up by Kevin Harvick in 2015 and translate that into success by Sunday evening.

Subdued much, Rowdy?

Subdued much, Rowdy?

“I feel like this year we’re just as prepared, if not a little bit better than last year, but also you could look at Harvick’s scenario, he was the defending champion coming up through, one of the only guys to make the Final Four, and same situation as myself, and he got beat,” Busch observed.

How one handles defeat is the true and telling sign of how a champion takes on challenges presented to them.  Some have said that Busch’s injuries last year has changed his approach and made him appreciate his opportunity and the privilege that comes with racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Ultimately, maybe it just comes down to taking the moment for what it is and not focusing in on memories or too much of the possibilities, as the case may seem for Busch and his No. 18 team.

“Having a short memory,” Busch answered when asked about the one variable that he fears heading into a winner takes all event.  “I think that’s probably key a little bit.  Don’t remember what just happened, just try to focus on what’s ahead, and like these guys said, you prepare for war and you don’t know what’s coming, but as bad things get thrown at you, you’ve got to just look forward and keep going.”

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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