Kyle Busch may be the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, but he agrees with an assessment that he and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team have been “flying under the radar” this season.
Busch has yet to win in the seven Chase races that have been run thus far, but he has also not found himself in a position – yet – where he needed to win in order to advance.
Outside of his 30th-place finish at Talladega – where he ran around in the back with JGR teammates Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth because they all had sizable advantages in the points – he’s finished eighth or better in every Chase race.
“We are kind of flying under the radar, which is fine. We don’t need to be the ones that are flashy,” said Busch, who will start 24th in Sunday’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. “We’ve been able to put ourselves in the right position to kind of stay on the right (side) of the points battle to not have to be flashy.
“Last year, I felt like we flew under the radar, too, a little bit. A lot of people were talking about Jeff Gordon and respectfully so because it was his final year and he was having a chance to go race for a championship at Homestead.
“Martin (Truex) was the underdog in being a single-car operation in Denver. Then having (Kevin) Harvick from being the previous year’s champ and people expected him to be able to go out there and be in the same situation.”
In fact, the only win Busch registered in the Chase last season was in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which allowed him to clinch his first series championship. His lone serious trouble spot in the Chase last season was a 37th-place finish at New Hampshire.
“We just try to do what is best for us. We don’t necessarily worry about what our critics say or what others say, we try to make sure that we are staying the plan and so far we have been and it’s getting us through,” Busch said.
Texas hasn't gone smoothly
Busch has stumbled in the early-going at Texas this weekend. On his first lap on the track in Friday’s first practice session, he pancaked the right side of his car off Turn 4 and was forced to go to a backup car.
During qualifying Friday evening, his team had to roll his No. 18 Toyota back to the garage because of a water leak. The team later discovered the water hose was not correctly connected to the engine block.
“I don’t think I have ever crashed on the first lap of getting out there on the race track before,” he said. “Going to a backup car, I don’t think it is going to hurt us any.”