Kyle Busch looks to Martinsville for first Cup win in 2018
It’s probably safe to say Kyle Busch is tired of not winning.
That’s saying a lot because it’s only been eight races since he last visited victory lane in the Cup Series.
In four of those races, the No. 18 Toyota was in the top three when the checkered flag waved. In three of those races, Busch finished in second.
Busch’s last victory celebration was in October at Martinsville Speedway.
The Cup Series returns to the 0.526-mile track this weekend for the STP 500, a race Busch dominated last year before he finished ... second.
Busch has won two of the past four races in Martinsville and led 813 of 2,005 laps in that stretch.
“We’ve run well the last two years especially at Martinsville, and we’re definitely pumped about getting back there,” Busch said in a release. “I’m hoping we can have a really good car there again this time around, like we did the last two years, especially. We led a lot of laps, and we were really fast. Hoping that some of those things we were able to push through there last fall at Martinsville we’ll be able to do this time around with our M&M’s Caramel Camry.”
Busch has finished in the top five in each of the last five races at the oldest track on the Cup circuit. All of those results came after he started outside the top five.
Last March, he started 10th and led 274 laps before losing out to Brad Keselowski in the closing laps.
“It’s a tough racetrack, and anytime you come in the pits and make an adjustment on your car, you certainly hope it goes the right way, or you make enough of it, or you don’t make too much of an adjustment,” Busch said.
Pits stops have plagued Busch the last two weeks.
At Phoenix, he led 172 of 312 laps. But during the last green-flag run, Busch’s team elected to run longer than the other leaders during green flag stops. When he finally pitted, the jack dropped unexpectedly while changing tires on the left side.
That allowed Kevin Harvick time to build an insurmountable lead over Busch to win.
On Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Busch led 62 laps. He was second when he and leader Martin Truex Jr. pitted on Lap 163. The No. 18 exited pit road first, but Busch’s crew made the wrong adjustment on the car, and he was told to use his track bar to compensate.
Truex eventually passed Busch on Lap 169.
Busch said the last run at Martinsville can be “tricky.”
“You can be coming off a 50-lap run on right-side tires and take four and you’ve only got 30 (laps) to go, or you could have 80 to go and you know you have to manage that run all the way to the end,” Busch said.
While it’s the shortest track on the circuit, Martinsville plays host to some of the longest races at 500 laps.
Busch says a key to navigating a Martinsville race is to not “worry about what lap it is, ever.
“That’s the worst thing that could happen to you,” Busch said. “You just try to not ever worry about what lap you’re on or what’s going on around you. You just keep battling, keep driving, keep your focus forward on what you’re doing. That’s the best way to go about those long, long races.”