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Kyle Busch Starts 4th, Prepares to Defend Talladega Win

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch and crew chief Randall Burnett mull over their chances with repeating as GEICO 500 champions at Talladega. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

LINCOLN, Ala. — Kyle Busch looks forward to kicking off the second quarter of the Cup season at Talladega as the defending GEICO 500 winner.

Last year, the Las Vegas native made the most of his opportunities in his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet mount. Starting 17th, Busch passed Bubba Wallace to take the win in NASCAR Overtime in a race ending under caution.

As Busch observed, his victory was not solely of his doing but with some good fortune and teamwork in the pits.

“Winning is always cool,” Busch said in team press release. “You strive to get to Victory Lane every single weekend and celebrate with your team and it’s great when you get there. I’ve not been known as a great speedway racer, so it was especially gratifying to score the win at Talladega, my first there since 2008.”

Despite Busch’s observations, he is a respectable superspeedway racer. Given the topsy turvy ways of these unpredictable races, Busch has three wins and an average finish of 19.25 at NASCAR’s traditional superspeedways in Daytona and Talladega.

Notably, Busch’s win last April was significant as it was his second victory with the Richard Childress Racing collective. After 15 seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch settled right in with the No. 8 team and tallied three wins last season.

This season has been a mixed bag with Busch and his team struggling on the short tracks. When factoring out the spring races at Bristol, Richmond and Martinsville, Busch’s average finish jumps from 15.8 to 9.2.

With the second quarter of the NASCAR Cup Series season kicking off at Talladega, Busch anticipates Sunday’s 188-lap race playing out like the 66th DAYTONA 500. Particularly, Busch anticipates the lead drafting pack to not push the envelope to save fuel.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch starts fourth with a promising shot to repeat as the GEICO 500 champion at Talladega. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

“I do think we will see similar racing as we did in Daytona with guys trying to modulate their fuel consumption as best as they can to minimize their time on pit road and make their next stop as short as possible,” he said.

Earlier this year, Busch kicked off his season rolling off the grid in 34th, leading 12 laps before finishing 12th in the DAYTONA 500.

Notably, Busch has demonstrated his resolve as one of NASCAR’s top drivers with 63 Cup wins, 102 XFINITY wins and 66 Truck wins. The two-time Cup champion can still get the job done with a capable car and a team that responds with the same intensity and fiery demeanor from their driver.

In the past year, Busch tallied five top 10 results at drafting style tracks, strong results for a driver who may not label himself as a superspeedway specialist. If Busch hopes to end his winless streak of 30 races, he hopes Talladega is where some magic can happen with the Childress team.

Then again, as demonstrated in 2008 with Gibbs and last year with RCR, Busch is more than capable of getting the job done as he starts fourth and expressed confidence in himself and his team to execute on Sunday afternoon.

“There’s definitely some optimism entering the speedway races with RCR,” Busch observed. “Both ECR and RCR have been strong at the restrictor plate races for as long as I can remember and it’s nice when we can continue that trend like we have last year and again this year.”

Rob Tiongson is a 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 his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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