By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — After winning five races and securing his second NASCAR Cup Series championship last season, it was expected that Kyle Busch would continue to “kick butt and take names” in 2020.
Yet, surprisingly, 19 races into the season, the 35-year-old driver has yet to make it to victory lane.
In fact, prior to Thursday’s race at Kansas Speedway, Busch had finished outside of the top 20 three times in the last six races and had led less than 10 laps in any of those events.
On Thursday night, however, it looked as though the two-time champion might be “back”.
Busch started eighth in the Super Start Batteries 400 and had made his way to the lead by lap 31, eventually going on to win the first stage and earning some crucial bonus points in the process. For most of the race, the Las Vegas native continued to hover around the top five, leading 52 laps while racing the likes of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, and eventual race winner (and also teammate) Denny Hamlin.
Unfortunately, the No. 18 team wouldn’t have the finish to show for their strong run. On lap 226, Busch made contact with the outside wall and wound up having to pit for repairs. He went a lap down as a result.
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Through some well-timed cautions and quick work by the crew, Busch was eventually able to work his way back up through the field, and almost made it back into the top 10 by the time the checkered flag flew. Ultimately, he would finish 11th.
“That wasn’t the finish this M&M’S Fudge Brownie Camry deserved today,” Busch said post-race. “We were tight most of the race and I just got into the wall there. We are making progress and think we showed that tonight. We will go back, get ready and head to New Hampshire next week.”
Despite some recent inconsistency, Busch is still well within the top 16 in the Playoffs, holding a 120-point cushion over 17th-place Tyler Reddick.
The Cup Series is off until Sunday, August 2nd for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coverage will begin at 3:00PM ET on NBCSN.