For much of this season, it appeared Kyle Busch’s favorite topic of discussion was rehashing the many ways his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota team had found to lose races.
The past month, the conversation has definitely changed for the better.
Busch’s victory in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in the past four races.
The biggest change during that span, Busch believes, is nothing his team could fix on its own.
“We’ve had really strong cars and had really good opportunities to win a lot of races this year. We just haven’t gotten it, for whatever reason,” Busch said. “There’s no store you go to to buy luck. I think luck was probably the biggest thing we were missing out on.”
Busch has led the second-most laps this season, so speed has not been an issue. He also was in a very safe place in the series standings and would have made the playoffs even without a victory.
But whether it was late-race pit strategy that went awry, pit road penalties or wrecking while racing for the lead, Busch had grown increasingly frustrated until he picked up his first win of the season last month at Pocono.
“It’s just kind of starting to turn around a little bit. Things are going a little bit better in our direction,” he said. “Some of those lucky breaks are kind of floating our way rather than somebody else's way. That’s kind of the way it goes. Take 'em when you can get 'em is my mentality.
“It is so frustrating, though, for this season to be as fast as we’ve been, as competitive as we’ve been, the opportunities that were there for us to be able to score the victories, and to not get those.
“Man, it just makes you really literally want to pull all your hair out.”
Busch, who now has 180 career wins across NASCAR’s three national series – Cup, Xfinity and Trucks – said he’s sure some fans find it difficult to believe a driver that wins as regularly as he does still gets irritated by the wins that get away.
“Being able to score the win just kind of relieves all that like, ‘Whew, okay.’ People look at me probably like I’m crazy, (because) I win a lot,” he said. “But it's so hard to win these Cup races that when these ones slip away, it definitely makes you way, way angrier than the other ones.”
But for now Busch is content.
At least until the next one.