Time is running out for Kyle Busch. The owner/driver of the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota is winless in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition this year, never experiencing victory lane in the series as a driver of his own vehicle.
That's not to say that KBM's debut season in the Nationwide Series has been a bust. The year's been far from it. The team has made its way to victory lane, but the owner's brother, Kurt Busch, was behind the wheel for the win at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway earlier in the season. And the Busch brothers have combined to put the No. 54 in the eighth spot in the series owner's standings.
I enjoy the speed here and especially in the Nationwide Series I feel like I've done a good job getting the car handling right.
That doesn't change the fact, though, that Busch hasn't won as a driver in Nationwide Series competition this year in his 19 starts so far. And that's something Busch isn't used to, especially in the Nationwide Series. After all, he's been victorious at least once in Nationwide competition in each of the last eight seasons. He has been close in his 19 starts up to this point in the season. His six top-fives include two runner-up finishes, coming at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Chicagoland Speedway.
The car owner will be behind the wheel this weekend when the circuit takes the green flag on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. It's the perfect opportunity, and quite possibly, the best chance of the season for Busch to make that long-awaited trip to victory lane.
Busch is the Nationwide Series wins leader at Texas Motor Speedway with five trips to victory lane. That's five-consecutive trips to victory lane, coming between 2008 and 2010. The first race after the five-straight produced a second-place finish for Busch, so make that a top-two finish in six-consecutive Nationwide events at the track.
"I enjoy the speed here and especially in the Nationwide Series I feel like I've done a good job getting the car handling right," Busch said of racing at Texas. "Those wins over a couple of years here were definitely a confidence booster."
Of course, those wins and runner-up showing came in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, but Busch is still Busch and his brother showed earlier in the season that the No. 54 team is capable of winning races.
That is, the No. 54 is capable of winning races when not saddled with mechanical issues and plain old bad luck, a couple of things that have plagued the start-up team this year and resulted in five finishes outside the top-20 when the owner's been in the car.
"We ran well with this car the last race at Chicagoland and had a chance to win with it," crew chief Mike Beam said. "We have worked on this car since Chicago, after some wind tunnel development test time. It should perform well."
As long as the car runs smoothly, chances are good for Busch to at least be in contention to take his No. 54 to victory lane on Saturday. After all, he's finished in the top-five in all but three of his previous 13 series starts in the Lone Star State.