It’s Kyle Busch, who has accomplished the feat in 2010 and last year in 2017, at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has had a few months to reflect on exactly what he accomplished.
“It’s obviously pretty cool,” Busch said Tuesday at the NASCAR Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “You want to win every single race you’re in and those opportunities don’t come along very often. Being able to get that again, it was pretty special.”
The weekend added to Busch’s record as the winningest driver ever at the .533-mile short track. He now has 20 Bristol wins overall and leads all active drivers with six Monster Cup wins there, breaking a tie of five with his older brother, Kurt.
“I love going to Bristol, love that track and it’s obviously a lot of fun for me,” he said. “It reminds me of a track I ran a few times in my Late Model days at Winchester, Indiana. It’s just such a cool place and to run the triple there, starting off winning the Truck Series race was big for me. To bring it home the rest of the weekend was special.”
He nearly topped that single week with a special season.
He won five races and came up just one spot and a few laps short of winning his second NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championship. With pit stops falling the wrong way for Busch, he lost the lead to Martin Truex Jr. with 50 laps to go in the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Busch had to race from back in the pack before coming up just short in the end.
“I felt like we were a little better than they were at Homestead and that’s what makes Homestead so painful,” he said. “You can be a guy who wins 35 races a year and you can finish second in that race and lost the championship. We felt like we had a chance to put that 78 bunch in that situation, but we weren’t quite able to pull it off at the end of the race. It feels like a letdown.”
Busch expects Truex to be one of his toughest championship rivals again in 2018. While seven of the eight wins by the 78 team came on mile-and-half tracks last season, Busch noted their improved performance on all tracks.
“They’ve gotten better at some of their weaker tracks,” Busch said. “Martinsville for instance, they had a chance to win. They were right there all day. Loudon, they’re really good at — and they outran us at Phoenix. Anywhere you look, they’re obviously good.”
During the offseason, Busch’s pit crew has been restructured, while the Joe Gibbs Racing organization has undergone big changes in its driver lineup over the last two years.
“I looked up to Matt Kenseth, what he was able to accomplish over his career, how he was always a championship contender,” Busch said. “Losing Carl (Edwards) and bringing on Daniel (Suarez) and losing Matt and bringing on Erik (Jones), it’s obviously a challenge since we don’t have all the experience of the veterans.”