The Daytona 500 has been Kyle Busch’s kryptonite for many years. It’s the only hole on his future first ballot hall of fame resume.
Busch’s job for the 65th Great American Race got more challenging following the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel on Thursday evening. And it wasn’t because his car had slow pace. Quite the opposite.
Busch, now driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, led a race-high 28 laps in the second Duel. He was leading a line of three Chevrolets — Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson in close pursuit — on lap 41 when his car got out of control after a push from Suarez. The No. 8 car hooked to the right and pounded the outside wall. His solid race, over.
“We were single file, there was no pressure from the outside; there was nothing happening,” a frustrated Busch said. “Just getting pushed for two straight laps and finally it didn‘t want to hang on anymore. It overloaded the left rear and spun out the wrong way on the straightaway. It is what it is.
“I don‘t see the sense in it, it really boggles me.”
Admittedly, Suarez said he was pushing too aggressively. But he says he was getting pushed from Larson.
“I was just pushing too hard,” Suarez stated. “I feel like Kyle (Larson) was pushing pretty hard to me and I was pushing hard to the [No.] 8. When they gave me the message to take it easy in the corners, I was going to do that. But I spun him out on the straightaway and wasn‘t expecting that.
“It‘s unfortunate, and definitely not the way we had that planned.”
The frontrunners had been single file for many laps, attempting to save fuel. The No. 8 team believed they would be roughly four laps short. Justin Haley and multiple Ford drivers thought they could make it the full distance.
Having to go to a backup car, Busch says anything he learned from the Duel is irrelevant when it comes to Sunday’s Daytona 500. But he and the No. 8 team thought they had a car capable of sitting in Victory Lane.
“The car was fine, it was good,” he said. “If there was any weak spot we had, it was just exit of the corners where guys could bunch back up to me. That‘s to be expected, that‘s just the accordion.”
In 19 Duel starts, this is the first time Busch has wrecked out. He has, however, failed to finish in four of his last six starts at the World Center of Racing.