Kyle Busch looks ahead after struggles in 2020
Five-year-old Brexton Busch has begun to experiences the highs and lows that his father, Kyle, knows so well in racing.
Brexton Busch began competing last year and while he’s won, he’s also suffered heartbreak.
“He came off the track one time, he finished second,” Kyle Busch told NBC Sports. “He was crying, just hysterically crying, saying ‘He beat me’ and ‘I lost” and all that stuff.
“I didn’t teach that. That’s hereditary.”
Such experiences can provide life lessons.
“You always want to give everything you can to your children,” Kyle Busch said. “You want to give them everything to be successful and what they need. Fact of the matter is, life is not easy. If it were easy, everybody would be able to do everything, right? There are certain individuals that are going to be able to do certain things.
“Those are moments of growth that now that I’ve been accustomed to, being a little bit older … You see his defeat, you see it as being beat and you’re supposed to win at everything that you do or what you do, because this is a performance-based business and you have to win to stay around.
“In all reality, you can have some losses, you just have to tolerate those losses. Everybody does that in different ways. Trying to teach that this early on is a unique opportunity for me.”
Kyle Busch also experienced such lessons last season when he went until the 34th Cup race of the season before winning. That Texas triumph was his only Cup victory of the season.
The last time he won only one Cup race in a season was 2014. He won 27 races between 2015-19.
“I think some of the biggest lessons learned last year is just everything of what not to do,” he said. “There were a lot of things that we did with a mindset and philosophy that just wasn’t right. We changed some of that stuff a little bit later in the year, Texas most noticeable, and we were able to score a win.
“It was kind of like ‘OK, we need to think about this a little differently think about what we were building cars like, thinking about our setups a little bit different.’ That whole weekend, I was like, ‘We have to just throw something at it. We have to try outside-the-box thinking.’ And, lo and behold, it kind of worked out.
“Fortunately, we won that one and now we can go into this season with a little bit more of that type of mindset, although there are fewer 550 (horsepower) races this year I think than there were last year.”
One of the challenges for Busch was not having practice at most events last year as part of COVID-19 protocols that NASCAR employed in shortening race weekends for each series. Most events this season also will not have practice or qualifying.
“This is a new era in NASCAR,” Kurt Busch told NBC Sports. “This COVID protocol, lack of practice, jumping into these races and trying to collect stage points vs. putting yourself in position to win. The new simulators, the iRacing world, the new tracks, the new car.
“This is where I’ve always tried to be that driver that adapts and stays fluid and can jump out of certain patterns and not get stuck. If you get stuck in your ways, you’re getting put a lap down right now. That was a discussion I had with Kyle halfway through the year.”
Kyle Busch’s Texas win in October extended his streak to 16 consecutive seasons with at least one victory in NASCAR’s premier series. He is tied with Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Jimmie Johnson for third on the all-time list. Richard Petty won at least one race in a record 18 consecutive seasons.
Busch will look to continue his winning streak with a new crew chief. Adam Stevens, who won two championships with Busch, moves to Christopher Bell’s team at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Busch will be teamed with Ben Beshore, who had been an engineer for Busch’s team and won four Xfinity races last year as Harrison Burton’s crew chief. Beshore and Busch won four of their seven Xfinity races together in 2019.
There should not be much adjustment for both this season.
“He kind of knows my little quirks,” Busch said of Beshore. “I have a whole new team essentially. The only guy that is the same is the car chief. Everybody else is different. I’ve got a whole new group of guys that I’ve got to learn, and I’ve got to teach them how I do things and what my system is and how I like stuff, where I had all of that for the past five years, six years. … Just getting into a rhythm and getting into races and practices and stuff is where all that is learned.
“It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”