Is Kyle Busch really on the ropes when he says that he’ll be eliminated in the next NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12?
For most of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Busch seems invincible. He has an uncanny ability to win races at will and is an easy fantasy pick every weekend. But now, for whatever reason, 2020 is different. This season, the defending 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Champion appears to be mortal. Kyle Busch is now beatable on the track.
Problems Not as New as it Seems
Taking a closer look at Kyle Busch’s slide, it goes back to the summer of 2019. Despite winning the 2019 championship, Busch is on a cold streak dating back to his win before Homestead last year. Although Busch was able to secure the 2019 series championship with a win at Homestead on November 17, 2019, he has no other wins since June 2, 2019, at Pocono. Kyle Busch is an almost sure-pick as a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. Incredibly, however, in nearly 16 months, Busch has only one race win.
2020 has Not Been Kind
For whatever reason, 2020 has been particularly unkind to the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Busch has attributed much of that struggle to the new protocols since the COVID-19 break. According to Busch, the No. 18 team benefits immensely from what they learn in practice and qualifying. And with those sessions no longer available, they are struggling to get the car in shape to win races this season. Although it may be the case, it’s not as though the No. 18 team is the only team not practicing or qualifying. The No. 18 team is consistently off the pace in nearly every race this season.
Busch Expects to be ‘Out’ in the Round of 12—is he Right?
In 2019, Kyle Busch made the Playoffs with four race wins and several more stage wins, giving the team a large cushion of playoff points, allowing them to more or less coast to the championship race at Homestead-Miami.
Due to the team’s performance in this year’s regular-season, Kyle Busch enters the playoffs in an unusually weak position. Busch is now in 14th-place with just three playoff points. His performance in the Round of 16 was adequate to advance. His second-place run in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol was arguably the team’s most impressive run of the season.
Despite his great run at Bristol, Kyle Busch bluntly told reporters afterward, he expects to be eliminated in the next round of the Playoffs. Of the Round of 12 tracks, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is where Kyle Busch is in the most control of his destiny.
Is Kyle Busch Really on the Ropes?
Kyle Busch tends to run well at 1.5-mile tracks, however, the Las Vegas native has no Cup wins at his Las Vegas home track since 2009. If the No. 18 team is unable to get it done in Las Vegas, the races at Talladega Superspeedway, and the elimination race on the Charlotte Roval, seem more likely, outside of the Kyle Busch’s control.
In just three weeks, everyone will know if the 2019 champ will get back to his winning ways, or whether his prediction at the end of the Bristol race comes true.