By Jordan Bianchi, NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – He may not win all the time, though considering the frequency in which Kyle Busch does visit Victory Lane it certainly creates the impression that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is omnipresent in the winner’s circle.
Busch’s most recent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory occurred Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Yet unlike so many of Busch’s wins — including his previous two this season — Busch didn’t have the dominant car in the Food City 500. Yes, his Toyota Camry was strong, but even Busch admitted others were better. Chief among them, Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, who combined to lead 344 of a possible 500 laps.
But winning is more than just which driver possesses the most talent, though Busch is undoubtedly not lacking in this department. Many factors play a role in deciding the outcome, as was the case at Bristol.
The decisive moment Sunday came during a caution with 21 laps remaining. Keselowski was leading, Logano was second, Busch third and Blaney fourth. The Penske trio all elected to pit for fresh tires, while Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, smartly chose to keep his driver on the track. A critical call that vaulted Busch into the lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Keselowski incurred a penalty on the subsequent restart, while even with fresher tires Logano and Blaney lacked enough time to move forward and challenge for the win.
“It stinks when you have the fastest car and don’t win, but it’s a team sport and it takes every piece to make it work,” said Logano, who finished third.
Not as if Busch didn’t earn his 54th all-time victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, tying him with Hall of Famer Lee Petty for 10th on the all-time wins list. He did have to fend off older brother Kurt over the last 14 laps. Had he been able to get to the rear bumper of his younger sibling, Kurt said post-race he would’ve crashed him but he never got that chance as the situation never materialized.
Sometimes circumstances simply work in your favor. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. And when you’re both lucky and good, then you’re Kyle Busch.
“It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys, get our win today here at Bristol,” Busch said. “The Skittles Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most of not having the best and got everything we needed here at the end.”
It has been that kind of season for Busch. He now has a Monster Energy Series-best three wins, finished in the top 10 in all eight races — the first driver to accomplish this feat since Terry Labonte in 1992 — and continues to sit atop the standings, stretching his lead to 27 points over second-place Denny Hamlin.
Many times over it has been demonstrated that Busch is capable of winning, any race no matter the track. It’s not as if he also needs any luck. But when things do go his way, or when his competitors hand him an opportunity on a silver platter because of pit strategy that can best be described as curious like on Sunday, it creates the impression that there is simply no slowing him.
Adding to that seemingly aura of invincibility and what must give the competition fits is what lies ahead: Richmond Raceway. Merely a venue where Busch has won six times — second only to his now eight wins at Bristol — including the past two races on the short track, and boasts a stellar average finish of 6.9 in 27 career starts. It is a place where he is often at his best.
“We got some good tracks coming up,” Stevens said. “Hopefully we can get back on our horse, give him something he can race with a little closer next week.”
Maybe Busch won’t get another fortuitous break on Saturday night. It also may not even matter.