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Harris: Contentious Busch Now A Contender

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 28 2011

Kyle Busch is having another Kyle Busch kind of season as he is winning in all three of NASCAR's top series. Some think this is the year he wins the Cup championship. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Mike Harris | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

A lot of you probably read the classic “Waiting for Godot’’ while you were in school.

Basically, it’s about waiting for something that may or may not ever happen. That’s pretty much the way I feel about the future success of Kyle Busch in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series.

It’s doubtful that anybody, like him or not, denies that Busch has a tremendous amount of talent on the race track.

At 25 years old, he’s already won 20 Cup races while becoming dominant in both Nationwide and trucks with 47 and 26 wins, respectively. In the two latter series, the still young gun is generally expected to win or have a good shot at it every time out.

That hasn’t been the case in Cup, although he does have 70 top-fives and 108 top-10s in 230 starts in NASAR’s elite series. That’s a very admirable percentage, but the younger of the two racing Busch brothers has yet to become a consistent championship contender.

My feeling, though, is this could be the breakthrough season.

First of all, the driver that so many fans love to hate, has calmed down considerably, perhaps a benefit or result of becoming a married man since last season.

He’s also a team owner in the truck series now, a job that definitely gives an individual a more well-rounded view of the sport and adds to the maturity level because of the overall responsibility of having

Kyle Busch has the look of a champion this season. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

employees.

Most of all, though, Busch, who will turn 26 on May 2, has now been part of the Cup series since he ran six races in 2004 – the year his older brother Kurt won the Cup title.  It’s likely that he now fully understands what it takes to gain the consistency that goes into winning a championship.

The big question now is can he take that knowledge and turn it into performance?

So far, 2011 has been pretty good to the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

In eight races, he has one win (Bristol), four top-fives and five top-10s. But the last two races haven’t been as good, with a 16th-place run at Texas and a crash-marred 35th-place finish two weeks ago at Talladega. Still, he is sixth in the points heading into the race this weekend at Richmond.

After a weekend off for Cup, Busch is facing a stretch in which he can really begin to establish his credentials as a solid contender.

Richmond offers him a great chance to rebound from his poor showings in the last two races. He has

Kyle Busch tops a lot of lists when it comes to driver talent. But the wait for him to win a Sprint Cup championship goes on. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

won twice and had 10 top-fives in 12 Cup starts on Richmond’s tough .75-mile oval.

At Darlington, he has one win and three top-10s in six starts and at Dover Busch boasts two wins, six top-fives and seven top-10s in 12 tries.

Then comes Charlotte, a track where the youngster has yet to win a Cup event. A couple of wins, particularly at Dover and Charlotte, which are also part of the 10-race Chase for the championship later this season, could go a long way toward building some confidence and momentum for Busch.

But there’s an old saying in racing that you have to lose a championship before you can win one. Busch has yet to finish higher than fifth in the season points. So he still has plenty of prove to himself and others.

Still, my gut says this could be his year.

– Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@racintoday.com

Mike Harris | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, April 28 2011
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