Kyle Busch has a reputation as being something of a perfectionist. He wants to win… badly. When he does, he wants to immediately go back and do it again.
Luckily for Busch, he’s done plenty of winning over the years. He’s won 207 races in NASCAR’s top three divisions, including 55 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (good for a tie for ninth all-time with Rusty Wallace). Busch has won enough races by himself and via his race team (Kyle Busch Motorsports) to conceivably just put trophies wherever he wants.
No, we’re pretty sure Busch doesn’t have random trophies hanging out on a copy machine or a manufacturer’s trophy in the break room refrigerator when the cameras aren’t around. It just seems like he could.
That said, Busch is not where he wants to be at this point in his career, especially in terms of Cup Series titles. This weekend marks his fifth straight Championship 4 appearance; Busch has been able to capture just one title during that stretch (2015).
Winning the 2019 MENCS championship on Sunday would definitely move him a step closer to his goals, though.
“I’m behind, for sure, in wins and championships,” Busch said during Thursday’s (Nov. 14) Championship 4 Media Day. “Why [is that so]? The list goes on. [The goal] now is about where it’s at. If I end with one [championship], it’s going to suck. If I can only get two, then whatever. I think five is still achievable. That said, you get to five [Championship 4s] in a row and only come away with one, that gets really defeating.”
Championships in NASCAR weren’t always decided in this fashion. It used to be a full-season grind. Then, from 2004 through 2013, you had a 10-week Chase. Now, it’s just one race to decide it all. The pressure is on… but not necessarily where you’d think it would be.
“It’s stressful, man. It’s not stressful until the Round of 8 and the Round of 8 is the ultimate pressure,” Busch said. “Once you get here to Homestead, though I feel like it reduces.
“[The Round of 8 is] just about being in the Championship 4 and being eligible there. You know you’re racing against eight of the best of that time right then and there. You look at it, I think we were one through eight last week at Phoenix at one point in the race, right, so it’s hard. It’s not easy and you’re racing for points, literally single points at times that can get you in or out. So with this format being the way that it is, it definitely takes time off you probably a little bit, it’s pretty stressful, gives you some more gray hairs than you want.”
The stress is not just reserved for Busch. Everyone else with the team is running ragged as well.
“[Crew chief Adam Stevens], the whole playoffs, he’s been working 90-hour weeks plus,” Busch continued. “It’s crazy [with] the stress and the difficulty and the sacrifice that his family has to go through for all this to work and for all of this to come together. So I know it is my ultimate reward back to him as well as all the families involved on our team to bring home the championship.”
Busch has done a decent amount of winning in 2019 to get him to this point – just not recently. He enters this weekend with four wins each in Cup and Xfinity, along with a five-race sweep of his Gander Outdoors Truck Series schedule. But Busch hasn’t won in Cup since Pocono back in June, a span of 21 races.
Despite that winless streak, Busch does not subscribe to the notion that momentum is a thing.
“I won [at ISM Raceway] last year and went to Homestead and should have finished 14th. We were terrible,” Busch continued. “I didn’t win through the Playoffs in 2015, went into the championship race as the underdog, shouldn’t even be there, no chance to win, and we won. So it’s all about, what can you do for me now.”
Busch clearly believes, despite an uneven playoff, his team is still capable of winning it all. When Sunday night comes around, he’s looking to be the one to accept a 66-pound Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series trophy on the frontstretch at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
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