September 28, 2023

How Kyle Busch Learned To Live With ‘The Kyle Busch Rule’

Kyle Busch has four NASCAR wins as the first half of the season nears its end.

On Sunday, Busch won his third NASCAR Cup Series with Richard Childress Racing. A dominant performance from the pole, the No. 8 Chevrolet was not only faster in a straight line, but stronger through the corners at the World Wide Technology Raceway. Outside of the Cup, he also won in Las Vegas in early March when he made his first Craftsman Truck Series start of the season.

There are many drivers who would like to take four victories. But if it’s up to Busch, that’s just the tip of the iceberg if he’s still allowed to race as much as he wants.

“Yeah, (I) definitely miss being able to run as much as I want,” Busch said recently.

It has been seven years since NASCAR imposed restrictions on Cup Series drivers running in the other two National Series. Those with more than five years of full-time experience were limited to 10 races in the Xfinity Series and seven races in the Craftsman Truck Series going into the 2017 season. They were also barred from competing in the playoff races.

NASCAR said the guidelines were to “elevate the status of future stars” while still competing against the best of the Cup Series in the sport. Some – like Busch – would argue that it was “the Kyle Busch Rule” to keep the wins from being taken away from series regulars.

A year later after its introduction, the rule was further tightened to seven Xfinity Series events and five Truck Series races. And in addition to not being allowed to compete in a playoff race, a Cup Series driver could not compete in the regular season finale.

Busch ran his 10 allowed Xfinity Series races in 2017, winning five times. He won once in his seven starts in 2018 and four in his seven starts in 2019. It was more of the same in the Truck Series, with three wins in seven starts in 2017, two wins out of five starts in 2018, and then going an incredible five-for-five in 2019.

In 2020, the rule has become even stricter. Cup Series drivers with three (instead of five) years of experience are limited to five races in both the Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series. In addition to the regular season finale and playoff races, they are also banned from special events: the Dash 4 Cash (Xfinity) and the Triple Truck Challenge (Truck).

“I would especially like to have more Truck races,” Busch continued. “I thought we started strong and that we would have a good year winning in Las Vegas with the KBM Chevrolets, but unfortunately we’ve been terrible ever since. We’re missing something somewhere, and we’re trying to figure out why and what. We have an idea, but we haven’t necessarily conquered it yet.

“That would be one I would really like; to get back into it would be the Truck Series and run my own things a little bit more; still have some races to build the program and make sure we are where we need to be with our younger drivers (who are) who don’t necessarily have that experience to be able to dictate and tell exactly what’s wrong with the dynamics of our vehicle and things like that.”

Busch has already made four of his five allowed starts in the Craftsman Truck Series, where he has 63 wins. Busch splits time in the No. 51 with Jack Wood, who is winless with two top-five finishes in five starts. Chase Purdy, who drives the No. 4 full-time, is also winless with six top-10 finishes in the first 12 races.

The winningest driver in Xfinity Series history and 2009 champion, Busch is out after two starts. He went five-for-five in his starts in 2021.

Busch became the first driver to win all three NASCAR National Series races in one weekend at Bristol in 2010. It has only been done once since then – also by Busch. Motorsport images

“The Xfinity (Series) side, I could take it or I could leave it,” Busch said. “I enjoy racing as much as possible. Maybe because I haven’t been doing them that much lately, the triple (header) in (Las) Vegas was a bit much. But once you start doing them more regularly, your body will get used to it. That’s how I was early on when I first started doing triples. It was hard, and then I got used to it, and then it was easy. Now you’re kind of out of it again, so it’s no different than a workout regimen. You just have to get back in.”

Busch became the first driver to win all three NASCAR National Series races in one weekend in 2010 at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was a feat he repeated in 2017 at the same circuit. He remains the only driver in NASCAR to record a three-win weekend.

Busch made an early career running two or all three races in a weekend. Without the rules, he probably still would, because racing is an addiction that Busch will never give up.

But if he can’t get it into NASCAR, Busch has spent the last few years seeking other racing opportunities to keep himself busy.

“I have to, what other choices do I have?” Bush laughed.

To touch. Although it came in an unlikely way. Busch becomes a regular on dirt and of course is quite competitive in the arena. Last season he raced a little late model in an event set up by Kyle Larson, but mostly Busch has raced micro sprint cars. This not only keeps the racing itch scratched, but also allows Busch to compete with or against his son Brexton.

“That’s just about it, right?” Bush said. “Like it [Kyle] Larson, I think he’s going to do 100 shows this year, and that’s just insane. I don’t think I’ll be until about 20 (do). But the main reason I do what I do on the dirty side is only with Brexton. He gets to run his go-kart stuff or his junior sprint stuff, and I’ll run the micros. We run on the same night, so we’ll be together.

And it’s not just local to North Carolina. Brexton Busch races all over the country, and so does Kyle Busch. Over the weekend, Busch raced his NASCAR Cup Series car in St. Louis, but there were also Thursday (Tri-Cities), Friday (Doe Run) and Saturday (Wayne County) dirt events where he and Brexton both competed.

Brexton won his event, Junior Sprints, at Doe Run Raceway. Busch won his heat race and the outlaw winged micro race.

A day later, Busch won the pole for the Cup Series race. He then finished the weekend with his 63rd career win.

It’s been seven years since NASCAR changed driver qualifying, and for Busch, time hasn’t made him any better. While not as fulfilled as he would like in NASCAR, Busch takes what he can – now with a side of dirt. The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that Busch does indeed just keep winning.

Story originally appeared on Racer

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