Entering his 16th season, Kyle Busch seeks his first Daytona 500 win.
While he’s won each of NASCAR’s other crown jewel races (the GEICO 500, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400), he’s yet to win its biggest race in 15 starts.
Kyle Busch seeks First Daytona 500 win
He has a 19.3 average finish, with four top 10 finishes. He’s led the most laps in two races, finishing fourth and 41st.
His lone runner-up finish came in last year’s Daytona 500.
Busch said that he doesn’t recall how the late restarts went, but with two laps to go in regulation he was in the front of the pack. Denny Hamlin was ahead when a multi-car wreck broke out on the backstretch.
On the final lap, Joey Logano passed him heading into Turn 1 and Busch fell back to fourth, exiting Turn 2. He passed Logano coming to the line, but ran out of time to chase down Hamlin, who took home victory.
It came only a month after J.D. Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing co-owner, passed away. So it was “a boost of confidence and everything else for everybody included with Joe (Gibbs, team owner) and all the things that Joe and the family” went through.
With that said, Busch said last February and Saturday at Daytona International Speedway that it was a bittersweet runner-up finish.
“Obviously it hurt not being able to bring home that trophy and for Denny to be able to bring home two, but that’s just a part of racing,” Busch said, Saturday. “Hopefully we can get it done this year or whenever, sometime or another, before it’s all said and done for myself to be able to at least have one.”
Whether it happens “this year or whenever,” he hopes to finally hoist the Harley J. Earl Trophy.
This year, Busch clocked in seventh and 14th in the first two practice sessions and placed sixth in qualifying. In the Busch Clash, however, he wrecked out and finished last.
But does it matter if Busch never wins the Daytona 500? With 56 career NASCAR Cup Series victories, he sits ninth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.
Combined with his two championships, he’s among NASCAR’s god-tier of all-time drivers.
“It’s not going to end my career by any means,” he said. “Obviously it would certainly be nice that I’ve come this far and been able to do all those things to get that done. We’ll see what happens.”