NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The burden of an unfinished season, deciding where he will race in 2023 and the impact on his Truck Series team rests on Kyle Busch.
Back in contention for the two-time Cup winner, he is trying to revive his career this season with Richard Childress Racing.
Busch performed his final duties on behalf of Joe Gibbs Racing at Thursday’s NASCAR Awards (Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET on Peacock), and now it’s all about helping RCR win its first cup race since 1994 champion.
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Busch will join Richard Childress Racing this weekend at the Speedway of the Americas in the World Federation of Automobiles endurance races. Busch said the team has converted an old cup car into the event’s endurance car. Last year, RCR won the eight hour race with Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Kaz Grala.
Busch is seeking better fortune at RCR than he has recently been at Joe Gibbs Racing.
He has won one cup race in his past 53 races — 14 drivers have won more races than Busch since the July 2021 race at Road America.
His 17 top-10s last season were his fewest since 2015 when he had 16 top-10s.
He’s finished 29 of 36 points races — the first time since 2015 that he’s finished fewer than 30 games. Two engine failures in the first round of the playoffs resulted in a failure to advance to the second round for the first time in his career.
“It’s obviously been a challenge, not just this year, but more recently,” Busch said Thursday at the Music City Center. “So, honestly, it might have been a blessing in disguise, it might just be time to start over, time to do something new, time to do something different.”
He looked to future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for inspiration.
Brady previously won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots Joined Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers.
Manning won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Denver Broncos and winning a Super Bowl in his final season in the NFL.
“I kind of see it as the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning aspect of them leaving great teams, great origins where they won championships and they were able to win championships elsewhere,” Busch said . “I think I still have a chance to do that in RCR.
“I think the opportunity for the new next-generation car is easier to realize than it has been with the previous-generation car for the past few years.”
Because with the previous generation of cars, there was more separation between teams because NASCAR didn’t regulate the cars as much, he said. For the next generation of cars, the fleet has the same parts. Two-time Cup winner Joey Logano said his team still has a lot to learn in terms of racing and maxing out the setup.
Even struggling at the end of Joe Gibbs Racing’s tenure, Busch said he wouldn’t go to RCR with his chips.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove, or that I need to shoulder the stakes,” Busch said. “I just want to get out there and run well again. … I feel like we’ve had a lot of strong performances this year. I can count about six races that we could, could have, should have won, but We didn’t win, which is very frustrating.
“We’re so good at giving them away that I need to go back and I’m so good at stealing them and earning them.”
One of the perks of winning a Cup Championship is access to the Championship Log. Jimmie Johnson started the tradition after winning the title in 2010. The existence of the diary was kept a secret until 2017, when Johnson posted a photo on social media of him handing it over to Martin Truex Jr.
The magazine passes from champion to champion, with the current champion holding it for a year and adding an entry for the next champion before handing it over to them. Logano will receive the diary from Kyle Larson.
“I can’t wait to read it again,” Logano said before Thursday’s NASCAR awards ceremony. “I’m telling you, it’s probably one of the coolest things ever. Jimmie gets all the credit for coming up with this idea.
“I wish it had started earlier. It’s been so much fun. Some drivers write in great detail to the next champion, others are quick and easy. It’s fun to read. This one is cool. It’s a real secret. Kind of like no It’s a written rule that you can’t take pictures and post. This is something that only champion drivers know, read and see.
“Every time I get it, I’m nervous. I don’t want to spill anything on this thing, don’t lose it. It would be bad to be the one to lose it. It would be bad. I put it in a safe .”
Logano won his first cup title in 2018. He then gave the diary to 2019 series winner Kyle Busch.
“It’s something you think about, at least I did,” Logano said of what he wrote. “I wrote Kyle a letter. You put a lot of thought into it. As long as our sport exists, it will. At least I hope so. It’s a really great tradition.”
3. The fun factor
On the day of last year’s NASCAR awards ceremony, William Byron said he wanted to compete in more races outside of NASCAR in 2022.
Byron was aiming for victory in Sunday’s famous Snowball Derby Super Late Model competition and he has achieved his goal, winning, gaining confidence and having fun at the same time.
“What I get out of it is immediate pleasure, a relief,” Byron said of participating in various super post-model competitions this year. “It’s not doing cup racing. It’s different. It’s not as intense working with the team and stuff like that because there’s not as much to do. There are still bonuses and stuff and you have fun out there, honestly. .. I enjoyed it a lot.
“When I started working, I realized that doing it was really productive for me and I learned a lot. As I did it more often throughout the season, I learned some nuances that helped I’m back in Cup racing with better skills.”
This playful element stands out for Byron. Cup racing is stressful, with multi-million dollar sponsors, the prospect of winning and everyone in the shop depending on the performance of the car. That’s a huge amount of pressure, more than any driver can put on himself.
“There are a lot of people and you’re trying to help them and do a good job for them,” Byron said of the cup. “It’s important. You want to perform for guys who are working non-stop in the shop. As a driver you cast a much wider net. Whenever you get to the short track class, it’s you and 6 to 10 guys racing work. … There is naturally pressure on what we’re trying to do at the cup level because it’s the number one motorsport in America”
4. Find a car
Ross Chastain says he’s tried “for years” to drive a Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, but that hasn’t stopped him.
“I met with the IMSA president,” said Chastain, who is second to Joey Logano in this season’s cup win. “I’ve met the team owners. I’ve talked to the drivers. I just can’t find my way in. I haven’t found the right person to tell me what to do or give me a chance. I can show up with a sponsorship and get a ride, but How can I become a racing driver? I haven’t found that place yet.”
Chastain said he reached out to a few people this offseason but was unsuccessful.
He said the prestige of the season-opening IMSA event (January 28-29, 2023) attracted him, but he would also like to gain more racing experience on the road circuit – even though he was at the Circuit of the Americas last season. win. Chastain wasn’t picky about the type of riding he wanted to do in that race.
“I don’t even want to be class-leading. I want to find the mid-range Xfinity team at Rolex and go out there and run and experience it, and then just hang out with the road racers who do it all year. I know I can learn something . . . I just want to race.
5. Indy 500-Coke 600 Double
It’s been eight years since Kurt Busch competed in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, the last time the feat was accomplished.
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson have expressed interest in competing in both races on the same day, but they don’t appear to be able to do so in 2023 due to limited IndyCar rides .
Roger Penske, owner of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said he might see Jimmie Johnson trying it this year, and others as soon as next year.
“It’s about owning the car and the manufacturer, whether it’s Chevrolet or Honda,” Penske said, referring to the IndyCar maker. “Anyone would be interested to see someone run a double. Maybe Jimmie would do it, and that would be great.
“He’s got experience. He’s good on the oval. … From what I understand, he’ll probably do the 600 as one of his races (with Petty GMS). We’ll see.”