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Kyle Busch
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Chasing the Cup

1. Kyle Busch

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 6, 2020, 4:41 pm ET

Success is measured on a sliding scale. Value depends on circumstances.

No matter how one determines those two factors, Kyle Busch topped the chart in 2019 and is likely to do so again in 2020. As good as he’s been, he has not peaked just yet.

In the NASCAR.com Fantasy Live game, fantasy players can choose a driver 10 times during the regular season and (beginning in 2020) five times during the playoffs. Rosters are made up of five drivers. Last year Busch was a top-five value 19 times.

Things are less clearly delineated in the Draft Kings game where an astronomic salary cap factored into the consideration, but even if players only considered him a good value when he finished first or second, he did that on 16 occasions. Busch was the greatest value eight times. His salary cap was always in excess of $10k and $12k or more 14 times.

In both games, he was occasionally a poor value. He earned negative points twice in Draft Kings and fewer than 10 points three times in Fantasy Live. Two of his bad performances came in close proximity with a 37th-place result in the Brickyard 400 after losing an engine and a 37th on the Charlotte Roval with suspension damage.

Mostly Busch was considered a modest value when measured against himself and he scored top-10s in an amazing 83.3% of his starts.

Because he is so good everywhere, fantasy players can easily avoid him in wild card races like those at Talladega and Daytona – two courses that rank among his bottom three. More importantly, they can pick and choose when to use him compared to the competition. He is likely to run well at Watkins Glen (which ranks as his second-best track overall), but Chase Elliott has been better in recent seasons. Yes, he is good on short, flat tracks, but so is his teammate Denny Hamlin.

And knowing that Busch is likely to score a top five on a given week – after all, he did that in 75% of the races last year – means there is no sense of urgency to starting him in a particular race.

For all of that well-deserved praise, Busch has limitations. Streaks were hard to maintain in 2019 and Busch was not immune. He started the year better than anyone with 11 consecutive top-10s and eyed a record 12th. But he was impatient in the Digital Ally 400 and wrecked his car.

Busch rebounded with four straight top-fives in the next races and then had another unforced error at Kansas. The following week, he drew 14th out of the jar at Daytona in an aero-restricted superspeedway lottery as the halfway point of the season approached.

In the second half of the season, we noticed Busch was losing some of his dominance. In the final 18 races of the season, he was unable to string more than three top-10s together. One-third of his attempts in that span were marred by crash damage.

The good news is that on-track incidents occasionally galvanize the driver. Busch finished among the top 10 twice after sustaining damage and 11th on another occasion in his six incident-effected races.  

Busch has a tendency to overdrive at times. He does not respond well to frustration and that can be his Achilles Heel. Fortunately, players can usually tell when the pressure is building to that point, however, and it’s worth the risk of parking him on those weekends.

Three Best Tracks
Kentucky (4.7 in 9 attempts)
Richmond (6.8 in 29)
Watkins Glen (9.5 in 15)

Three Worst Tracks
Charlotte Roval (34.5 in 2)
Talladega (20.3 in 29)
Daytona (18.4 in 30)

2019 Stats
Victories: (5) Phoenix 1, Auto Club, Bristol 1, Pocono 1, and Homestead
Top-fives: 17 (.472)
Top-10s: 27 (.750)
Top-15s: 30 (.833)

Recent articles featuring Kyle Busch:
2019 Driver Rating
Ride the Rhythm: short track success
Running till the end
Fast and Smooth: 2-mile success
Battling the Bullrings: Short track success
Streaking in 2019

2019 Profile

2020 Driver Profiles:
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Joey Logano
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Chase Elliott
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Kyle Larson
10. Erik Jones
11. Clint Bowyer
12. Alex Bowman
13. William Byron
14. Aric Almirola
15. Kurt Busch
16. Christopher Bell
17. Ryan Newman
18. Matt DiBenedetto
19. Jimmie Johnson
20. Tyler Reddick
21. Chris Buescher
22. Cole Custer
23. Austin Dillon
24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
25. Ryan Preece
26. Ty Dillon
27. Bubba Wallace
28. Michael McDowell
29. Ross Chastain
30. Daniel Suarez

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.