By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – Kyle Busch is quietly confident heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 33-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada, comes into the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings sitting 46-points above the cutoff line, best among potential drivers to make the Championship 4 on points.
With Joey Logano winning last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, there are only three spots left to fight for over the next two races to set the field for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While Busch owns three wins in 25 starts at Texas, including one at the most recent race in April. However, he conceded that the track is still tricky even though it’s two years into the re-configuration, which widened and lowered the banking by four degrees in Turns 1 and 2.
“I think there’s opportunity to be aggressive here if you want to be aggressive,” said Busch, a seven-time winner this season, “but there’s a lot of risk for reward at this place, especially on restarts with as slick as we’ve seen it be, as narrow as we’ve seen it be the last few years since the repave.
“Depending on how the rubber application gets going here this weekend and how wide of a groove you kind of see between the Truck race and the Xfinity race leading into the Cup race, that kind of determines what all you should expect or how hard you feel like you can go on restarts.
“Past that, into last week’s race, obviously I didn’t go back and re-watch it, but just remembering what I remember about it, the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) worked hard for quite a few laps to make a move at Martinsville and at a short track as clean as he possibly could and just cleared a guy too soon and got run over through three and four. With sometimes who you’re racing around, I guess you have to know what’s going to happen and expect that and try to plan for it I guess.
“When you try to do too much planning, last time I checked, that’s not racing.”
Given the current situation in the in the points, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing believes they are poised to advance, but isn’t ready to take anything for granted.
“I’d like to think our odds are pretty good,” said Busch, who qualified 10th for Sunday’s race.
“Obviously anything can happen. We won Martinsville last year and came here and had two flat tires in the race and we didn’t fair very well. You still have to have some luck on your side and have everything kind of go your way. It’s tough to rebound sometimes after a difficult start to a day or even if you have trouble later in the day it’s really difficult to rebound and get a good finish like you need.
“We’d love to be able to win and automatically lock ourselves through, but if that’s not the case then you just have to be smart and mindful of a good points day and try not to hurt yourself and minimize mistakes if some are made.”