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Kyle Busch Searches for Second Half Surge

(Photo: Riley Thompson | The Podium Finish)

After a strong first half of the season, Kyle Busch is hungry for more with the playoffs inching closer.

Through 16 races, Busch has been one of the most consistent drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series. He has six top fives, 11 top 10s and a win at Bristol Dirt.

On Sunday, Busch returns to Nashville Superspeedway looking for another victory. Last year, Busch won the first Xfinity Series race at the track since 2011 and finished 11th in the inaugural Cup race.

“I feel like last year’s [Cup] race will lend itself into a little bit of this year,” Busch said Friday in a media conference. “The track really widened out nicely and this car does not like to trail another car and follow so you’re going to need options you’re going need different groups that you can go run in so with last year’s race really widening the track.

“We’ve been fast and we’ve shown good speed. But at some of the flatter shorter track, we haven’t shown great speed, but I would say besides Gateway was a good offset for us so it just kind of depends on what this place ends up racing like.”

Though Busch has performed well over the course of the season, the last race at Sonoma Raceway was an outlier. He struggled and spun late, resulting in a 30th-place finish.

“Both road course events so far this year, were not our strong suit,” Busch said. “We weren’t great at COTA either, but we were able to get through some of the restarts and get positions on guys to get ourselves up front… talking to Martin Truex (Jr.), who tested for us at the Glen, certainly not looking forward to going into Glen either. They weren’t very fast there.

“These teams or organizations kind of have that they’re good at these particular tracks. And so I think as we all continue to learn and grow like the good teams will be the good teams everywhere. But you know, it is kind of patchy, right now with just getting an understanding built around this car.”

Kyle Busch knows his way around Nashville. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

(Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

But, after Nashville, Busch will have an opportunity for road course redemption at Road America. He won the Xfinity race at the 4.048-mile circuit and finished third in the Cup race.

In total, Busch has four Cup road course victories and 15 top fives in 43 starts.

“The big straightaway corners it’s important [to not miss them],” Busch said. “Missing turn three I think it’s called and then going down along back there. That’s important. That’s a big deal. Obviously, the last corner I think it’s 13 or 14 coming up along from straightaway. So those can be detrimental to lap time for sure.”

After Road America, the Cup Series returns to the repaved Atlanta Motor Speedway for the fourth superspeedway-like race of the season. Back in March, Busch finished 33rd after crashing after contact with Austin Dillon early in the 500-mile race.

It’s also the first time the Next Gen car has returned to a track for a second race.

(Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“I felt like we were one of the stronger cars there earlier this year. We just didn’t get to showcase it,” Busch said. “we would have been able to work on that as the day progressed and gotten better with it.

“It’s a speedway race it’s going to happen, but you’d like to be in position at least all the way to the end.”

With 10 races remaining in the regular season, Busch has his eyes set on winning the regular-season championship. He sits in third place in driver’s points just 23 points behind Chase Elliott for the lead.

If he can win the regular season, Busch would receive an additional 15 playoff points — an extra point buffer in each round leading up to the Championship 4. With one win and one stage win this season, he currently has six playoff points.

“It’s the number one priority there,” Busch said. “Having that goal right there, you know, we’ve got to be careful with it because you can’t overextend yourself trying to race for a win.

“There’s some definitely more opportunities than that too, that we’ve thrown away that I wish we had back and we’d be either the leader much closer.”

Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedy is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

 

Nathan Solomon is a junior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. He serves as the managing editor for his campus newspaper, The BonaVenture, and as the programming director for his campus radio station, WSBU 88.3FM. The station is rated the No. 4 college radio station in the country by Princeton Review. Solomon started his journalism career in 2018 when he began covering hometown Cornell basketball for IvyHoopsOnline. In 2019, Solomon joined Empire Sports Media to contribute baseball content and started covering NASCAR for the outlet in 2020. In 2021, he covered his first two NASCAR races with Empire Sports Media. Solomon joined TPF in September of 2021 and became managing editor in spring of 2022. He is also an NMPA journalist.

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