Kyle Busch balancing personal and professional highs and lows

Rusty Jarrett/Motorsport Images

Kyle Busch balancing personal and professional highs and lows

NASCAR

Kyle Busch balancing personal and professional highs and lows

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Kyle Busch is living two separate lives early in NASCAR’s Next Gen era as he tries to recreate the championship-level performance he displayed in the late 2010s.

Professionally things have been a bit shaky. Personally, life couldn’t be much better.

Busch is a recent winner at the Bristol Dirt Race and one of 2022’s top drivers, but he was a talking point after Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway for controversial reasons. The Nevadan had one of the quickest cars on the night, but saw his day ended when longtime rival Brad Keselowski blew a tire and spun directly in front of him. Moments later Busch stopped his battered No. 18 Toyota at the entrance of the garage area on pit road and walked off, forcing a extended caution so safety personnel could remove the car.

Whether justified or not, the move caught the eye of those watching due to the track and circumstance. Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR for what was deemed a safety violation when he ran over several safety cones near spectators at a significant rate of speed after a crash in the 2021 Southern 500 at the same track. The perception that he may have purposefully left his car at the garage entrance after a similar issue kept the airwaves full with hot takes and chatter.

Sunday’s result was a professional setback. But just two days later Busch experienced one of the biggest moments of his personal life. After an emotional, public battle with infertility, Busch and his wife, Samantha, welcomed their baby daughter Lennix Key through a surrogate mother on Tuesday.

The four days since have been an early season treat.

“It’s been great,” Busch said of his daughter’s arrival. “I’m just really thankful for all the blessings that we’ve had over the years — struggles and trying to get where we are today. It’s really meaningful to be able to welcome home our baby girl.

“Lennix is doing well. Mom (Samantha Busch) is adjusting and doing well, so working on that man-to-man coverage with children. I’m sure that’s going to change as she gets older but enjoying every moment of it thus far.”

With the arrival of the weekend came renewed focus on the task at hand.

Busch returned to Kansas Speedway on Saturday as the defending race winner and a playoff contender. But there’s work to do as the regular season reaches the halfway point.

His Joe Gibbs Racing team’s shown glimpses of promise this year. Busch has a victory already. He’s led 225 laps so far, keeping himself on pace to better the 334 (2021) and 516 (2020) of the past two years. His 12.7 average finish would be his best mark since 2019 if it holds. He’s a solid sixth in points.

Those stats are all great. But Busch has higher standards than that. He’s a two-time champion that made the Championship 4 in five straight years from 2015 through 2019. Busch at his dominant best is the sort of driver that can rattle off multiple wins and leave his competitors scratching their heads, wondering why they struggle to keep up.

So while he’s currently celebrating a major personal breakthrough with Samantha, son Brexton and Lennix, Busch understands the need to isolate those moments away from the track from his continual push for greatness behind the wheel.

“I would say that I feel as though there is a personal life and a racing life, personal life and career, however you want to segregate that,” Busch said. “I try to separate those as much as I can.

“Being able to have that at the track sometimes blends over, but to me, I wouldn’t say having a baby girl makes all of the struggles of the last couple of years go away. We are in a performance-based business and being in a performance-based business means you need to perform and do well and you need to win races. That is still at the forefront.”

Away from the track, Busch is soaking up the glow of life as a girl dad. But don’t expect him to soften his style or cut anyone a break on-track.

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