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Kyle Busch looking for Texas to provide momentum into NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8

by racedaysaeditor | Posted on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Courtesy of TMS Media Relations

FORT WORTH, Texas – Kyle Busch may be entering the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Playoffs as the fifth seed but this three-race set, beginning with Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, certainly plays firmly into his hand as he pursues a third series championship.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, has a combined eight victories at the three venues that make up the Round of 8 – Texas, Kansas Speedway (Oct. 24) and Martinsville (Oct. 31) – and a strong overall performance record at each.

He arrives at Texas Motor Speedway as the defending winner of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (1 p.m. CT, TV: NBC and Peacock, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Radio, KFWR 95.9 The Ranch), having snapped Kevin Harvick’s three-year dominance of this fall playoff race last season. That victory was the fourth of his career at Texas Motor Speedway, which moved him into a tie for second with Carl Edwards for most Cup wins at the Fort Worth venue. Busch also is tied for second in career top-five finishes (19), second in career laps led (1,049) and third in career finishing average (11.0).

He also has won twice at both Kansas and Martinsville and has a combined 25 top-five finishes between those two tracks. A victory at any of the three Round of 8 tracks would earn him an automatic berth in the Championship 4 playoff field set for Sunday, Nov. 7, at Phoenix Raceway.

“This round lays out very well for us,” Busch said. “We have three tracks where we have had a lot of success at over the years. We won at both Texas and Kansas within the last year, so I feel like that’s a good omen for us. The mile-and-a-half programs have been really strong for us. We did not run so well at Texas with the All-Star race, but that was different, just everything with the package tweaks they had for that race. We should have a pretty good starting spot for us, and we need to stay up front and hopefully keep our track position. Looking forward to this week.”

Busch should be looking forward to this week given how this 1.5-mile track has suited his driving style on every NASCAR national series level. Busch has won an eye-popping 18 times across the three series at Texas Motor Speedway, with a record nine Xfinity Series wins and another five in the Camping World Truck Series to go along with those four in Cup.

“It’s always been a really good place for me, whether that was before the repave or after the repave,” said Busch, referring to the repave and reconfiguration of the track ahead of the 2017 season. “A lot of credit goes to Joe Gibbs Racing and the cars they bring there for me. We’ve had a lot of success at Texas over the years, whether that is in the Xfinity Series winning five in a row as we did there, winning in the trucks, and now we have four Cup wins there too after the win last fall.

“It’s just been a really good place for me, and our team has been better with the 550 (horsepower) package this year and hoping we can get into Victory Lane there this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Camry and punch our ticket to Phoenix early.”

Joe Gibbs Racing has easily been the strongest at TMS among the current Round of 8 Playoffs field. Busch and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin have combined for seven wins while the rest of the field has combined to win once at Texas. The only one to break through has been Team Penske’s Joey Logano, who won in the spring of 2014. It should be noted that Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson, the top seed entering the Round of 8, did win the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at TMS in June.

Through the first two rounds, Busch has yet to register a victory and has had a mixed bag of results. He has three top-10 finishes, including two among the top four, coupled with three of 21st or worse. However, Busch remains confident where this team stands heading into the third round of the playoffs.

“There’s always things we can improve on,” said Busch, who has two victories (Kansas, Pocono) on the season. “We’ve been solid but would like to be able to get out front, lead some laps and have a shot at the win. We aren’t far off, but we just don’t quite have that race winning speed like some of the Hendrick cars do, but we aren’t far off either.

“We just need to keep our track position, maybe get out front and have some things play out in our favor. This sport is so difficult and so competitive. It’s a matter of trying to improve just a little bit in a lot of areas, which make a huge difference in whether you are a top-five car and a car with race winning speed.”

Busch captured his Cup Series championships in 2015 and ’19 and does see a semblance to one of those title runs.

“I would say 2019 was sort of similar to this year,” Busch said. “We got a win at Kansas earlier this year, we’ve had some speed, but not quite as much winning speed as we would have liked. We were able to make it to the Championship 4. You have to be in it to win it, so you never know what’s going to happen in that final race. We would certainly like to punch our ticket sooner rather than later and not count on getting in on points, so hoping we make it happen this weekend at Texas.”

The NASCAR Playoffs weekend at Texas Motor Speedway will consist of the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at 2 p.m. and the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday at 1 p.m. The Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track also will play host to the “Texas Throwback” featuring sprint cars and crate late model racing Friday and Saturday beginning with hot laps at 7 p.m.

Individual tickets and packages are available for the NASCAR races at

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