There are few things Kyle Busch has failed to accomplish in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career but a points-paying race victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway remains one of them.
Yes, as he points out often, Busch has a winner’s trophy from Charlotte, but it is from the 2017 All-Star Race. It came with a $1 million first prize, but counts only as an exhibition race victory.
It seems a little odd that at a track where Busch has had such resounding success in both the Camping World Truck and Xfinity series (15 total wins), he is still searching for his first Cup series points win.
He’s won 46 times in the Cup series during his career and 11 of those victories have come on 1.5-mile tracks similar to the Charlotte.
Just how a big a deal is it to Busch himself?
“It’s important to me, but I’m not sure it’s important in the grand scheme of things,” he said Thursday night at Charlotte after winning the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. “It’s certainly important to me and I would love to get that knocked out of the way and to be finished with it until another new track comes up on the circuit.
“It’s been a trying time here over the course of my career.”
Starting up front
Sunday’s 600 will be just the third Cup race at Charlotte from which he’s started on the pole. In the 2008 600, he started first and finished third and in the 2014 fall race, he started first and finished fifth.
Busch has finished second three times at Charlotte, most recently one year ago in the 600.
Asked if he put more pressure on himself for this race, Busch said, “Yes and no. You can only do so much with the stuff that you’ve got and everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing has been doing a great job and working hard to put together some better stuff each and every week and to get us closer to those other guys that are a bit faster.
“That’s all we can do is put our heads together and try to make the most of it.”
The key to a successful 600-mile race at Charlotte is for both the driver and his team to keep up with the multitude of changes that occur over the nearly four-hour event.
“You just have to be mindful of kind of what’s going on and let things happen and let the race come to you. If we’re the ones that can be up front for much of it then that’s fine,” he said. “There’s portions of the race though that when you’re running up front and leading laps in the daytime, that’s not to say that you’re going to be leading laps at night and vice versa.
“I’ve started in the back here and I’ve been good and I’ve started in the front and been bad. You just have to take it in stride and go through the transitions of the track changes and keep up with it with your crew chief.”
Busch, who has three wins already this season, believes his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team is capable of coming out on top.
“Overall with the speed in our race car right now, once you get the balance right, the car has speed so you just got to keep it there,” he said.
“It seems like our box might be a little bit smaller than some other guys, but when we do get it there, it shows up."