For defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, being in a winner-take-all scenario like Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 is old news. He knows what needs to be done, and he plans to go out and do it.
“I’m all good,” Busch said Friday afternoon. “I think last year’s experience, learning and taking it all in was a good thing, ultimately being able to win it the way that we did with feeling the way that everything felt that weekend. Trying to mimic that, get on through this weekend and have some good success on Sunday.”
It’s to the point some might even confuse relaxed with uninterested. On Thursday, Busch was so even-keeled he asked about the Wi-Fi at Loews Miami Beach in the middle of being questioned on Championship 4 Media Day. Friday, he was making fun of Carl Edwards‘ clothing choices, his car owner and even rival Jimmie Johnson.
“He went for a run this morning,” Busch joked Friday. “You know how far I went? 10 feet.”
These are words of a man comfortable in his own skin. It’s clear since winning the championship last season, things have relaxed a bit for him and the No. 18 team.
“I think winning the championship last year definitely impacted us,” Busch said on Thursday. “It just gave us a greater sense of belief in ourselves, our team and confidence in being able to go out there and do it again. You know, there’s no reason to think that what we accomplished last year is a one‑time thing. We feel we’re just as good last year if not better and performed better throughout this Chase in order to get ourselves in the position we’re in.”
On Thursday, Busch noted that whomever ultimately wins the championship on Sunday will take home less money than he did last year. That fact does not affect Busch negatively in any way.
“It doesn’t matter,” Busch continued. “Really it’s not ‑‑ to me how I’ve always looked about it, and Carl [Edwards] would probably say the same thing, I’ve always raced to achieve what I want to achieve based on success and on results and things like that. It hasn’t been for the money, although you do want to get paid for what you do, you do want to get paid well if you’re better at what you do, but ultimately it all comes down to just taking home trophies, man.”
Busch qualified the best of the Championship 4 drivers, starting ninth for Sunday’s race, but does not appear have a very fast car on short runs. On longer runs, Busch is more competitive, turning in the 10th best 10-lap average (of 26 drivers to run 10 consecutive laps) in second practice on Saturday.