Prior to the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs beginning on Sunday evening (Sept. 5) at Darlington Raceway, Kyle Busch had the third best odds to win the championship. After one race, the No. 18 team sits 14th in points.
Busch began the race from 12th position, and hovered outside the top 10 for the majority of the opening stage. At the stage end, Busch placed 12th, failing to score any stage points.
But on lap 125, Busch’s race went awry, when contact from Austin Dillon sent the No. 18 Toyota into the outside wall of Turn 2. Busch was the third car out of the race (Michael McDowell and James Davison wrecked earlier), finishing 35th and earning just two points.
Kyle Busch is OUT!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 5, 2021
“We were running like shit and got wrecked, so that‘s what you get when you run like shit,” Busch told NBC Sports from the infield care center. “The M&M‘s Camry was not very good and we were running terrible, and we got wrecked. It wasn‘t the [No.] 3‘s fault.”
Busch mentioned he had a good simulator session preparing for Darlington, but that hasn’t translated over to the race multiple times.
That added to the two-time champion’s frustration.
“I don‘t know what our problem is, but every time I go to the sim and use sim and think we have a good sim session, we go to the racetrack and we suck. I‘m done with that. We‘ll have to use some other tools on figuring out how to be good.”
“That’s what you get when you run like $&#%.”
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 6, 2021
Fortunately for the No. 18 team, 10 other playoff teams faced some sort of adversity in the Southern 500. Because of that, Busch is just two points below the cutline, which Tyler Reddick currently holds in a tie with Alex Bowman.
As for the final two races in the Round of 16, they’re two of Busch’s best on the Cup circuit. In 31 starts at Richmond Raceway, Busch has six victories, earning a top-10 finish on 24 occasions (including seven straight). At Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch is an eight-time winner and has a current streak of four straight top-five efforts.
But, Busch isn’t thinking about those races much.
He said, “We get what we get.”