By: Ashley McCubbin
Knowing his chances at making the Round of 8 rested on getting a win at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Kyle Busch went for the strategy call in staying out with 21 laps to go, in hopes of holding off the field while most of the leaders had fresh tires.
It did not work out as he’d drop through the field, before contact in the late stages flattened a tire and required a trip down pit road, handing him a 30th-place finish.
Looking back, Busch did not believe the call made by crew chief Adam Stevens was going to be enough.
“I just knew that we were trying something, anything,” he commented. “Some of the other guys had stayed out behind me – four or five of them. I thought maybe if there was 10 or 12 of them maybe we might have a better shot at having an opportunity to stay upfront. Even if on the fire off trying to get everything warmed up ready to go, I even had my teammate, the 20 car, pass me. So obviously I didn’t have anything for nobody today.”
At the time Busch and Stevens made the decision, he was running fourth on-track behind eventual race winner Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Joey Logano. Some wonder if the story would’ve been different if Busch would have pitted with them, but he doesn’t think so.
“The 9 car was just too strong today; he was just really good,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “That car on road courses is just really fast, and he’s doing a really good job with it, too. It definitely has a different platform than what I’m doing and feeling, so it’s definitely something that we need to figure out. It’s been long enough now that we haven’t figured out, so it’d be nice to be a little faster at these places. The best we were going to run is third or fourth, maybe second if I got lucky, but that’s about it.”
Now with his championship hopes over, Busch can focus on the other thing missing from this year – a trip to victory lane. In each of his previous NASCAR Cup Series seasons, he has picked up at least one checkered flag.
“It’s very important and you know you go out there and try each and every week,” he said. “There’s certainly been times this year where I’ve thought there was something wrong with me, man I’m not doing it right or whatever, or the cars not quite right, or I’m not trusting what the car is doing and telling me then I drive harder and I’m crashed. But certainly it’d be nice to score a win, and have a win for this year.
“That’d be the only consolation prize for how this year has gone.”