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Kyle Busch is one of the drivers that fans love to hate. While Busch often welcomes the haters, there is one area fans should probably lay off the 16 year cup series veteran: the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Many fans see Busch’s forays into the truck and Xfinity series as an easy way to pad his stats, since he has 49 and 91 victories in those series, respectively. Busch, though, has good reasons to compete in both. He admits that racing in the Xfinity series is about reaching his goal of 100 wins in the series, and that he will stop racing in the series once he reaches that goal. He has no plans to stop racing in the truck series, however, even if he is not very well received there.
Fans don’t necessarily root for cup drivers who dip down into lower series, especially when that driver is Busch.
The Truck Series race in Atlanta was a perfect example. There are many fans who don’t want to see Busch come down to the truck series and win, and they were filled with delight after he had a pit road mishap. Busch pulled away from pit road early, before his crew had secured all four of his wheels, and he was forced to go back to pit road after a tire came off. Several fans in the crowd were cheering as the mistake prevented him from having a chance of winning.
So, why should fans believe that he isn’t entering these races just for the (relatively) easy wins? While it won’t change many of Busch detractors’ minds, he really does have a good reason to be there. A reason even better than beating Ron Hornaday’s all-time record of 52 wins in the series.
“No, there’s nothing about hitting 50 that makes it special,” Busch said about limiting his truck races to a specific milestone via Autoweek. “Fifty-two would be special. As far as how many truck races would I continue to run or wins would I like to hit, no, because it’s my own team and I’d like to always get out there and have the opportunity to race with my own team.”
Busch isn’t just racing to pad his stats, but to help give his experienced input to the team about setups and how the trucks are performing. That experience has been valuable for those who have passed through Busch’s truck team like Erik Jones, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez. It is obviously not hurting current driver Noah Gragson, who is sitting fourth in the points with a stage win early in the season.
“Everybody thinks I just like to go out there and pad my stats and everything else,” Busch said. “It’s not like that. It’s entirely to work with the people and try to educate the people. We’ve got three new engineers — two new engineers on our team this year and other new crew members and things like that, and so you try to work out the bugs with those guys.
“I feel like every year we go into the season with new guys, and I’m kind of regurgitating the same information sometimes. You have great leadership with the crew chiefs and stuff, but this is (Mike) Hillman’s (Jr.) first full season with us. Last year was Marcus (Richmond)’s first full season with us, so you know it’s hard for Rudy (Fugle) to be able to catch those guys up on exactly everything, and so when I’m there with the team meetings and stuff like that, we always go over stuff to make sure that we’re a professional organization.”
Knowing that he is at least using his seat time in the trucks to add experience to his team instead of shortchange the young drivers makes it much more palatable. Plus, there will be fewer stints in the trucks for Busch than in the past, since the new rules on cup drivers in lower series is in effect.
Last season, drivers with five or more years of experience in the cup series were limited to 10 races in the Xfinity Series and seven races in the Camping World Truck Series. The limits this season were reduced to seven for the Xfinity series and five for the Camping World Truck series. The new rules also make the two series’ final races and playoff series off limits for any driver with points in the Monster Energy Series.
NASCAR came to these new limits after working with teams to maximize development of young drivers.
Cup Series drivers were using the lower series as tune-up races and dominating the full time drivers at those levels. The hope was that lowering the limit will drastically help the Xfinity Series drivers improve and have a better chance to win.
Busch won three races in the series last season, so he can possibly break the record within the season. Maybe fans will be a little less harsh on him knowing he isn’t doing it for the glory. Well, not JUST for the glory.