Kyle Busch stays red-hot with lobster-grabbing win at Loudon
Kyle Busch understands why no one thought he’d win three of his first eight races back after missing nearly three months of racing recovering from gruesome leg and foot injuries suffered at Daytona in February.
After all, Busch himself didn’t believe he would suddenly become the hottest racer in NASCAR.
"I never would have guessed it," Busch said after winning the 5-Hour Energy at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in the last four races. "You know, if somebody would have said, You’re going to come back and you’re going to win three of four — how many have I raced now, eight, whatever? — I would have said, ‘Yeah, right, you’re crazy.’ "
Certainly, Busch’s first-year Sprint Cup crew chief, Adam Stevens, wasn’t expecting so much so soon, either. Not with Busch missing out on so much early season seat time in a year with significant rules changes to the cars.
"I’m really surprised that we’ve won three out of four," said Stevens. "That’s tough to do given any set of circumstances. But, you know, it all goes back to putting good cars on the track and executing well and being able to take advantage of some situations. We’ve certainly been able to do that."
Still, a lot of it falls on Busch’s talent.
"It’s pretty amazing that he’s been able to adapt as well as he has and still get everything out of the car with as much stuff that has changed and the leg up that the competition has just as far as number of laps with all this new stuff," Stevens said of Busch.
After winning his third race in four weeks — one on a road course, one on a 1.5-mile oval and the third on a 1-mile flat track — Busch is enjoying the Phoenix-like resurrection of his once-shattered season.
So is his boss, team owner Joe Gibbs.
"I think he’s been on a tear," Gibbs said of Busch. "Mentally I think he’s really been up on it. Ever since the injury, I think Adam will tell you this, he’s really been after it. We’ve really been proud of him. The way he’s handled everything, disappointments, handled that really well, too."
Gibbs described Busch as a unique talent.
"There’s only a few that are really, really special in a sport," said Gibbs, who coached the Washington Redskins to three Super Bowl victories in the National Football League. "I think Kyle is one of those in racing because he has an unusual ability, but also has a real fire and a passion for what he does. So that kind of comes through. I think it showed up over these last five weeks."
As for Busch, who also became a first-time father in May, he’s trying to take it in stride.
"I feel like there’s a plan in this world for all of us," he said. "God certainly put one on my table this year that I don’t know that I’ve had this big of a challenge before. That was in the injury and now, getting back in the racecar, getting back in the Chase. You know, in my mind, the opportunity I got put in front of me was to run 20 championship weeks from here on out until the end of the year. That’s what it’s going to be for us. We’re making the most of that right now."
And whether that enough to get him the first Sprint Cup title he wants so badly, well, that chapter hasn’t been written yet. But it surely has been one of the most compelling storylines of this season to date.