To say Kansas Speedway was a wreck-fest would be an understatement, with a record number of 15 cautions slowing the field for a total of 71 laps. However, no driver was happier to leave Kansas Speedway than Kyle Busch, who wasn’t even fond of Kansas Speedway to begin with as he had come into the weekend with two previous finishes outside of the top 30 which were both DNFs.
Busch finished the race in the 34th position after being involved in no less than three cautions, which was just adding insult to injury after a crash just a few seconds into the first practice session forced the team to go to a back-up car. With this already being such a hated track for Busch, there was no love lost by the time his hauler headed out and Busch was headed home at the conclusion of the race.
Kansas may have also been detrimental to his championship hopes. Busch fell two spots to fifth and is now 35 points out of the lead. Meanwhile, leader Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are separated by only three points heading into Charlotte next weekend.
While I’m not going to “put a fork” in Kyle Busch, I do not believe that the trophy will have his name engraved on it at the end of the season. Simply because Kansas was such a hurdle for him, which is a track that typically isn’t known for its harrowing escapades. Even though it was a trying race for everyone, with the new tires, cold conditions, and newer pavement, Busch just can’t seem to get past a track that is so like many others.
It’s bigger than just Kansas, though. Many of the incidents Busch was in were either his fault or a result of mind games that he didn’t need to be involved in. The first incident involving Danica Patrick on the first lap was hard to pin on Busch, since it happened in front of him and didn’t give him much room to slow down. The other two, though, are hard to see as anything other than Busch’s fault.
For starters, on lap 188, Busch was racing Juan Pablo Montoya for position when Busch spun off of Montoya’s front bumper and sustained some damage in the process. Upon further review, Busch had cut Montoya off while the two were racing just a lap or so prior. When they came back around the track, Busch appeared to again cut down on Montoya all the way to the apron and, when Montoya had nowhere else to go, Busch began to spin.
On the last incident, he came down on Carl Edwards, suffered severe front end damage, and was completely out of the race.
His temper was nonetheless set off. Though he tried to remain calm during his interviews in the garage area, his aggravation with Montoya over the radio was clear when he began making comments like “He won’t be missed” referring to Montoya’s departure from NASCAR to IndyCar at the end of the season.
Even aside from that, Busch got upset with former teammate Joey Logano on a restart when Logano had a run and decided to make it three wide. Though Logano didn’t do anything outside of the NASCAR rulebook, or even wrong, Busch was still aggravated by it and voiced his displeasure by giving Logano a shove under caution and expressing his frustration on the radio.
In other words, Busch beat himself at a track that has historically beat him. This wasn’t bad luck. This wasn’t someone wrecking him intentionally. This wasn’t anyone else’s fault but his. And though he has made strides in a maturation process that has been a long time coming, the long-awaited Chase meltdown arrived last weekend in Kansas.
All drivers have obstacles, but champions overcome them. And Busch just can’t quite seem to wrap his mind around the fact that the other drivers aren’t out there for him. While it sucks that a cookie cutter track has been such a struggling point for him, he needs to find a way to get past it, not just from a racing standpoint, but from a mental standpoint. There was no reason Busch couldn’t have finished in the top 10 on Sunday, and now he might be on the outside looking in when Homestead rolls around in a few weeks.
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