Not taking into account what could happen next month at Road America and Atlanta Motor Speedway, one thing is finally clear:
The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ long national Kyle Busch nightmare is over.
Let’s play it by ear?
Four years ago after a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (his 89th in the Xfinity Series), Busch vowed to wave the checkered flag on his “Buschwhacking” days once he reached the virtually insurmountable total of 100 career victories.
“When I get to 100 Xfinity Series wins, I’m done with Xfinity, so my retirement in Xfinity is fast approaching,” Busch proclaimed.
On Saturday (June 19) afternoon, 26 starts later, Busch faced a loud crowd of his haters and defenders on the frontstretch of Nashville Superspeedway and gave them what they both wanted to see:
His 100th(ish) celebratory victory bow in the Xfinity Series.
Whether he got his last 11 Xfinity wins “fast” is debatable, given NASCAR’s crackdown on full-time Cup drivers participating in its lower series since Busch’s vow. In 2017, it was 10 races. The next two years it was seven and the last two seasons saw the number reduced to five.
“If you look back on the last 10 years with all of the rule changes, hell, I thought we could make that number 150 by now, or 160, 170, whatever,” Busch said. “But with everything that kind of went down, it’s 100 now. Technically, they probably kept me here a while longer. I would have been done a long time ago.
“Reflecting, looking back on it, it’s cool absolutely. I remember the 60 car of Mark Martin would just dominate every weekend. I would wonder to myself, could anyone run with this guy? And that was 49 (total) wins. I just can’t fathom to myself what 100 really means. It would certainly be something to look back on when it’s all said and done and I’m in my rocking chair somewhere.”
The long, dominating (and frequently exhausting) march to 100 started on May 14, 2004 at Richmond Raceway.
A 20-year-old Busch led 236 laps from the pole to beat Greg Biffle for the victory in the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports.
According to Busch’s memory, two starts later at Charlotte Motor Speedway when he beat Jamie McMurray for the win, is where his tradition of taking a winning bow with a checkered flag began.
We have to take his word for it. Fox Sports cut away to an interview with Joe Nemechek before the act could be witnessed for historical posterity.
But the bow, whether you love it or loath it, isn’t some random taunt from Busch.
It’s an ode to his home.
“I grew up in Las Vegas,” Busch said. “Vegas is known for its shows and anytime a show was over, all of the performers would come out and do a bow to the crowd, so that was kind of my thing to the crowd after the show and putting on a big performance.”
Busch has provided them plenty of them across all three of NASCAR’s national series.
So many, that when it comes to his favorite moments in Xfinity, he’s “forgot more than I did.”
“I would say win No. 1 was cool. Anytime you win your first one, so that was good. At Charlotte in my first (start in 2003), I finished second, that would have been cool. Damn, (Matt) Kenseth. Those Cup guys, they shouldn’t run Xfinity. I don’t know why they do. The 49th (win), (then) passing Mark (Martin in 2011 at Bristol Motor Speedway). Mark was there, that was cool. …
“I believe we led all of the laps at (Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2008, it was actually 197 of 200 laps). Just stuff like that and being able to have some really dominating days and the 13 wins season in ’10 … that was really, really cool. Hard to pinpoint more than that.”
But if Busch is a man of his word, his days of bowing in the Xfinity Series are over pending his final two starts.
“I haven’t necessarily had those discussions with Joe (Gibbs, team owner) or (JGR president Dave) Alpern,” Busch said. “But from my understanding, there may not be anything sold for next year, so this might be it. Two more.”
And Busch is good with that?
“I’m good with that.”
No, but really?
“Did you hear the crowd?” said Busch, invoking the Nashville audience. “Nobody likes me here. So peace out. Bye bye. … I get beat up whether it’s the fans or here (in the media center), like ‘Why am I doing it? What am I doing it for? Why am I beating up on the little kids’ and all that BS. I love winning.”
Busch eventually did peace out from Nashville’s media center.
But he quickly returned.
“Who asked the question about what Xfinity wins that I remembered? Was it you?”
Yes, it was.
“The one that was really, really cool that stood out to me the most, I just remembered it,” Busch said. “It was Michigan. I think was 2004, my rookie year. I beat Mark Martin.
“He was always stupid fast, right? But we were stupider fast that day. And I beat Mark Martin at Michigan.
“That was like the defining moment where, ‘Oh, I can do this.’
“That one probably felt the best.”
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