If there is one place that could stop the roll Kyle Busch has been on it would be Richmond Raceway.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point leader knows it too, as Busch expressed that he felt okay, not great, after two practice sessions Friday. The feel Busch had for years early in his career when coming to this short track, which often led to domination, is still missing.
“Just a little bit too much slipping and sliding for our liking, but we’ll see if ours is any less than anybody else out there that we can be one of the best cars for the race Saturday night,” said Busch.
Busch’s numbers at Richmond read like a book with two chapters.
In his first 15 races (spring 2005 through spring 2012) Busch scored three victories and 13 top-10 finishes. In that time frame Busch led nearly 900 laps.
However, in the ten races since Busch has been shut out of the winner’s circle with five top-10 finishes and only 166 laps led.
“Success is almost forgotten it’s been so long ago, so we certainly want to get back to our winning ways and doing a better job of being up front and winning here at Richmond,” Busch said. “We’re just kind of missing a little bit.
“There were some rule changes years ago that had some things kind of taken away from our camp, and things that we were doing that made us a little bit better than our competition and we haven’t quite figured out what was left in order to make ourselves better than the tools that we had at that time, so still some work to do.”
While much has been made about Kevin Harvick’s fast start that saw him reel off three consecutive wins, Busch has been the driver hot on his tail.
“Man, I think we’re pretty equal honestly,” said Busch. “I think I’ve got to give them the nod a little bit. I think they’re a little bit better than we are. I think [Kyle] Larson’s right there as well, too. I think he may actually be in the mix as well; the 42 was strong last week. I think the 42 is strong this week – he’s the fastest car certainly on the short run in practices thus far here at Richmond.
“It’s going to be a fight to the end, you know?”
Busch enters Saturday night off two straight Cup victories and seven consecutive top-seven finishes. And even with a 25th-place finish in the Daytona 500 – the only time Busch has failed to finish in the top 10 – he still has a remarkable 5.4 average finish on the season.
“I think we kind of saw the guys, the main players rise to the top last year through the end of the regular season and through the playoffs and I think those same guys are kind of the guys right now with some few more mixed in,” said Busch. “I think Denny’s [Hamlin] getting better.
“I think Kurt’s [Busch] getting better. I think a couple of the Hendrick cars will start showing their speed here probably in the next three months or so I would predict. And we’ll see what happens with how it goes down between now and then.”