NASCAR Cup Series
Kyle Busch 1-on-1: On playoff push, keeping 20-year win streak alive
NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Busch 1-on-1: On playoff push, keeping 20-year win streak alive

Published May. 30, 2024 10:26 a.m. ET

The entire Kyle Busch-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. saga from a couple of weeks ago potentially is a result of the frustration of Busch's season. This weekend will be a vivid reminder of that frustration.

As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, typically referred to as Gateway, it marks one year since Busch's last Cup victory. When he won at Gateway last year, it was his third of the season in what appeared to be a career rejuvenation at Richard Childress Racing.

In the 36 events since that race, Busch has eight top-5s (two this year) and 14 top-10s (five this year). He sits 14th in the Cup standings, just 12 points ahead of the current playoff cutoff.

The day before the fight with Stenhouse, Busch talked with FOX Sports about his season and the path to going winless in Cup for an entire year, whether he is stressing over a playoff berth, whether not having Kyle Busch Motorsports (sold to Spire after last season) is good or bad, the development of his 9-year-old son Brexton as a race-car driver and whether he could see his 2-year-old daughter Lennix racing.


Here is this conversation with a couple of questions from his media scrum on pit road last Saturday as he reacted to the circumstances around the fight and the $75,000 fine to Stenhouse as well as three suspensions to JTG Daugherty Racing team members (Busch and his team were not penalized).

Do you agree with the penalties they gave to the JTG guys?

It doesn't matter whether I agree or not — NASCAR makes the penalties.

Do you feel any differently after seeing the replay as far as whether you were wronged on the track?

Nope. I gave extra room and when I was dragging the fence, he smashed my door.

Gateway is kind of a good and bad thing to talk about because you can talk about your win. But it was also the last one. First off, what do you remember about that race a year ago, specifically that went well?

Just having a great car. We were really fast. We were able to qualify up front. We were able to race up front all day. We kept our track position with the pit selection that we had. There was a couple of times where a couple guys cycled to the front, but we were fast on new tires, we were able to get ourselves back to the lead pretty quickly and control the race. It was really a good, good day for us, good overall and we'd love to get back to being up front controlling the race like that. I felt good about it at Dover (earlier this month). I felt good about it at Kansas. We need to shoot for that again.

If I told you after Gateway last year that you're not going to win for a season, you'd probably be like, "Man, you're crazy with the way things are going."

It's tough, right? There's been 36 races between now and then. And there's been how many different winners and us not being one of those is certainly something that we need to get better at. We certainly know that we need to get further up front and be able to get ourselves in position to win these races. When you're running up front and you're in position, you have more opportunities to win and you're going to eventually get yourself into victory lane.

It seems like the margin of error is so small in the Next Gen car. Can you compare it to any other time or any other series or anything else that you've run where it's been like this?

No. No, I can't. It's really crazy. The things that we did last year at Darlington, we ran third with it. And then this year, we've kind of gone on a different path and we ran well at Dover with it, we ran well at Kansas with it. So we're like, "Okay, let's go to Darlington with it.' And complete miss. Would we have been better off just running what we ran last year? Who knows? But honestly, things change so much in a six- or nine-month time period, something that you ran 12 months ago is probably not going to run as well up front.

Do you enjoy this challenge? Is there any part of you considering all your history that is like this sucks but there is a little bit of fun trying to work your way back?

I would say I enjoy it when there's moments of the light at the end of the tunnel. When you're able to win, you're going to enjoy it a hell of a lot more, it's going to be a heck of a lot sweeter to know that you finally got there and you were able to do it. I would say, though, that when you run through particular moments of weekends and you think you're going to be good, and you're not good, then it's like, "How the hell did we miss it this time? Where is it? And what did we figure out to not have that?"

Kyle Busch wants a win but isn't stressing over making the playoffs

Have you been able to figure out in the sense this is what or this is where we were off?

A little bit. Darlington, I would say that we did. We did run a rear bar, and we haven't typically been running a rear bar, so that probably had something to do with it.

I know in the past, you'd be like, "I've seen this in somebody else's car, remind me after the race," but I haven't heard you say that very much this year. Is it harder to tell what other teams might be doing to gain speed?

It is hard. The only time you'll really have a chance to look underneath somebody's dress, if you will, is when they're in tech when the tires are off the car. That's pretty much the only time that you have to see anything. So with limited time [with cars] out on pit road and cars being on pit road and being on jacks and then tires on back to the ground, you're not really getting a good chance to look underneath somebody's stuff.

Are you stressing over making the playoffs right now? 

I'm not stressing over the playoffs probably as much as I'm stressing over the 20-year win streak. That's the bigger goal. You win a race for that, you're going to be in the playoffs. That's the bigger one.

And that one can last all year as something to shoot for?


What do you think it says about you to have that streak?

It says a lot. There's a lot of different cars that I've raced in that time, there's been a lot of different crew chiefs that I've worked with and engineers and team and people and pit crews and all that stuff. It just goes to show you how tough this sport is and what it's become. And what it all boils down to is just being able to be consistent with fast cars, be up front — we've had it some weeks, we haven't had it others.

'It's tough' – Kyle Busch on being winless for over a year

Do you wish you had Kyle Busch Motorsports for a distraction?

No, no.

You're glad that it's not and you're content? Has it been a bit weird?

It's been a little bit weird, yeah. I still go over there occasionally to go in the shop and get fitted for a truck or something like that. But going over to [my son] Brexton's shop — that's KBM now. It is working through his race stuff, and my micro [sprint] program and whatever we do with that. So that's been cool to have something different on the side to focus on a little bit — and not really worry about too much big stuff with 70 employees versus now just having three.

What is the thing that you don't miss?

 Just dealing with people. It's fun and it's cool and it's great to have relationships with everybody. But, honestly, there's been times where it's a headache, it's stressful. You want to keep people happy. You want to keep people employed, and sometimes that weighs on you. And it's been nice to not have as many to deal with.

Fewer fires to put out?

That too. My water bill has gone significantly down.

And how is Brexton doing? I know some of his racing heats up during the summer.

Brexton has been doing really good. He's having fun. He enjoys it. There's been some frustrating times the last month or two of being oh-so-close to winning — he starts on the front row and he tries to get the lead and messes up and falls to third and has to get back to second. We're finishing a lot on the [top-three] podium. We haven't been getting too many victories, so it would be nice to start collecting some trophies and some checkered flags again.

Kyle Busch on how his 9-year-old son Brexton is doing with his racing

And what's it like being a girl dad?

Lennix is awesome. She's really good. She's so smart. And she's really been learning a lot with what she's been doing with words and learning to swim, jumping in the pool, just doing kids things. This morning, we were playing — Brexton got some new race car stuff for his birthday. She wanted to play with that. She's not really much of a Barbie girl.

So you can see her in a race car?

Most likely, I don't want her to — but whatever she wants to do. 

But does [your wife] Samantha want her to?

Samantha's good either way, but she agrees with me — she'd much rather not ... but she doesn't think that we can hold her off.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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