Season Recap: Kyle Busch

By Dominic Aragon
December 23, 2016

Kyle Busch came up five positions short of becoming a back-to-back Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion in 2016.

Eligible for the the championship in the season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch’s sixth place finish was the third highest finishing driver among those in the Round of 4.

Busch was the highest finishing Joe Gibbs Racing driver in terms of final points, third overall, and was the only driver to advance to Round of 4 from the drivers who accomplished the same feat in 2015.

Busch became the fifth different driver to win in 2016 with his victory at Martinsville in April, the sixth race of the season.

Winning a total of four times in 2016, Busch picked up first time victories in the series at Martinsville and Kansas.

Busch has won at least one race per season in every year he has raced full-time, a streak of 12 consecutive seasons. The streak is second-longest active only to Jimmie Johnson (15).

2016 marked Busch’s ninth Chase appearance and fourth straight season of qualifying for the series’ playoffs.

Leading 1,379 laps, Busch led at least 1,000 laps in a season for the seventh time in his career and for the first time since 2013. Busch was one of three drivers to lead 1,000 or more laps in 2016.

Busch placed inside the top-five 17 times, the most he has scored in a single season since 2008. He also placed inside the top-ten 25 times, a career-high in the series.

Daytona International Speedway (led 19 laps, finished third)
“I thought Kenseth was in the catbird seat, leading, being up there like that, but then the top lane got going and he tried to go up there and throw a block.

“But Denny just had too much momentum and then rolled back through the middle, so I’m sure it was an exciting finish and I’d love to go back and see it again.

I certainly wish it was the yellow car over there, but Joe’s [Gibbs] happy, so that’s all that matters.”

Martinsville Speedway I (won race)
“Leading as many laps as we did, that was really good for us. It was a confidence boost for me as well, too, just being up front that much.

“I've never really felt like I've had a car to be able to do that in years past, but Adam and the guys were able to give that to me this time around.

“So pumped about the things that I learned here this weekend, let alone the years past or years prior that I was able to learn, and of course my teammates that helped me out a lot here over the years, so to be able to finally put it all together is pretty cool, and take home not one but two Martinsville trophies, Martinsville clocks is pretty awesome.”

Texas Motor Speedway I (won race)
“Wasn't necessarily the fastest qualifier, but we knew we had a good race car, and the things that we did kind of worried me actually for about the first two-thirds of the race, just not—the track wasn't necessarily coming to us, but then all of a sudden it took a shift and things did come to us, and we had a really good car there at the end.

“Adam made awesome adjustments all night long, though, and kept us in the game and kept getting us better and took us from probably being a sixth-, eighth-place car, something like that, to then being able to run up front in the top three, and barring different tire circumstances or different restart circumstances at the end, giving us a shot to win.

“Hats off to those guys on the pit box and being able to get us here tonight with Interstate Batteries being in victory lane.

Kansas Speedway I (won race)
“We had a top-five car going there in the beginning part and middle part of the race. We just kept making improvements to it, kept making it better.

“There with about two runs to go, we kind of got on the tight side. I felt like we had decent speed. I really didn't know what to do to make it any better. After that final pit stop, we kind of got on the free side and were a little bit loose. Matt was catching us there.

“Those last couple cautions gave us the opportunity to kind of the cool the tires down and go back at it again with some of those other guys.
“They had tires. But when you're out front and you focus on hitting your marks and hitting the restart and doing what you can do, then you get an opportunity to try to drive away.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (won race)
“Yeah, just a great weekend for us and such a special weekend, too, being able to win a Brickyard 400 and have that opportunity come our way last year and then to be able to back it up and win again here this weekend was special in its own right.

“And then to add in the fact that we sat on both poles and were able to win the XFINITY race yesterday and the Sprint Cup race today and do a sweep of the weekend two years in a row, that's something that probably doesn't come along very often.”

Richmond International Raceway II (finished ninth, qualified for the Chase)
“You know, been running really solidly at New Hampshire the last few years.

“We did last year in this race coming up, we did have a tire failure and we blew a tire, but Chicago has been good for us, decent place to run top 10 for sure, and then Dover, of course, is a really good place for us.

“I like it. You know, it seems like it's a good round for us to be able to score some wins.

“As long as you get one, that moves you on through. Doesn't matter how many you get after that, but we'll see how it goes.

“Just a matter of trying to manage your losses essentially and make sure you can come out of races with good finishes.”

Talladega Superspeedway II (finished 30th, advanced to Round of 8)
“It’s frustrating, but to have a dull day today it’s certainly going to make for a heck of a lot more exciting days down the road. You have to look at it as you have to take the good with the bad sometimes, no different in that sort of scenario.

“Today was one of those having to ride around bad type days, but the reward is being able to race on and go into the next round and have a chance to race for another championship. I feel really good about the next round too.

“We won Martinsville in the spring and Texas we did – going to Phoenix we’ve gotten a lot better as well too over the years and have been able to finish in the top-10. We’ll reset our goals in what we need to do and what we need to accomplish from here on out.

“From where we ran today, it didn’t show anything about our Joe Gibbs Racing Snickers Camry. We had a really good car, it just wasn’t the day that we needed to be out there racing anybody or some of the things that those other guys were doing.

“We made the most of our day with what we needed to do.

Post-race Phoenix International Raceway II (finished second, advanced to Round of 4)
“Well, right now it feels pretty [expletive], but tomorrow it might feel a lot better.  I'm not sure, depends on what Matt's interpretation is and whether or not he can forgive.  

“You know, I just feel really bad about what happened there on that last restart.  It just wasn't what I anticipated having happen, and I just feel bad.  The 20 should have been the Gibbs car to go through, and I was just trying to make a position there on the 88, felt like I was to his inside and had the position.  

“Otherwise if he turned down on a guy and chop him you're going to get wrecked, and he did, and it translated into the 20 crashing.  That's not how at all I fore saw that going.  

“I was hoping I could get the 88 underneath him and force him up and have him kind of block the 22 and check up the outside row and then I could have a position between me and the 22 and get myself and the 20 in.

“Math just didn't quite work out that way today.”

Post-race Homestead-Miami Speedway (finished sixth, third in championship)
“We had a few moments there throughout the day that we thought we were kind of on the outside looking in and didn't really see a very good shot of winning it, and then all of a sudden it seemed like we had a really good shot to win the thing.  

We were up front and kind of driving away from those guys behind us, then Carl got back to me and then passed me, and we were out of it again.

“All in all, we fought hard tonight.  We gave it everything we had.  We didn't come in here with the greatest race car today, but we knew that we had enough of a one that we could run with those guys, and we showed that when the lights came on.”

Thanks to: NASCAR Media Ford Performance Team Chevy Toyota Racing

How many wins will Kyle Busch win next season?
3 or more