Kyle Busch is not only chasing his second Monster Energy Series title this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway but validation for his first.
To Busch, a second championship legitimizes a driver’s first one. But for him in partticular, it would go a long way since he still hears how his 2015 title wasn’t deserved. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver only ran 25 of the season’s 36 races after suffering severe leg injuries at Daytona International Speedway in a Xfinity Series race.
Upon his return, Busch completed the requirement of being in the top 30 in points and won a race to qualify for the playoffs. He then won at Homestead to win the championship.
“There’s a lot of arguments being made that we didn’t deserve the first one, we should never have been there for the first one, but fact of the matter is, we executed and did our job with the rules that were given to us and we achieved,” Busch said Thursday during Championship 4 Media Day.
“This would just kind of put ourselves in another elite group of guys and drivers and teams that have been really, really good over the years [and] that have been able to win championships. I certainly would have loved to have gotten [a second] last year and we could talk about going for three in a row, rather than just two of the last three.”
Busch finished second in the title hunt last season. He returns to the Miami with five wins in his pocket, and driving a very fast Toyota Camry. The manufacturer has been the dominant brand in the premier series this season, which has continued in the postseason with seven wins in nine races. Three have come from Busch.
A year after being the championship runner-up, the No.18 team is as much of a threat for the trophy as his stablemate, the unanimous favorite Martin Truex Jr.
The drive for another championship is strong between Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens. Earlier this week, Stevens revealed he keeps his trophy from ’15 in his office. It’s a daily reminder of the culmination of a successful season.
No such thing is needed for Busch. His trophy was at his house for many months, but when the reorganization was done at Kyle Busch Motorsports, and he received the car he drove that night, Busch moved the trophy to the shop.
“It’s sitting next to the championship car and in a case,” said Busch. “I don’t need a friendly reminder of a championship each and every day, I know there’s another one to go get. I don’t want a remembrance of one I already have; I want the challenge of being able to go get another.”
A second title would make Busch just the 16th driver in NASCAR history to have won multiple championships. And perhaps quieten down the detractors.
“It doesn’t bother me. I don’t care,” Busch said. “The trophy’s sitting at my shop. So, ain’t nobody taking that away from me. They can make it as much of an argument as they want to, but the fact of that matter is, NASCAR and all the record books will still say 2015 champion, Kyle Busch.”