With a 22nd starting position Kyle Busch has tall order to extend top-10 streak

TALLADEGA, AL - APRIL 26: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Chocolate Bar Toyota, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 26, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

If Kyle Busch is to extend his streak of top-10 finishes in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, he’ll have to do so from the 22nd starting position in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Busch had the second fastest Toyota in Saturday’s time trials, behind only Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., who qualified 20th. Clearly, the Toyota camp expects to do better in the draft than in single-car qualifying.

Busch has nine straight top 10s to start the season, and to add another, he’ll have to do so from mid-pack. But that isn’t the only worry for the 2015 series champion. Given the fast closing rates of the Cup cars, blocking attempts by the frontrunners could lead to chaos on the track.

“I think the leader can block and defend,” Busch said after time trials. “The runs (Saturday) in the Xfinity race, you kind of saw were a bit slower and got stagnant as the guy got closer from behind. I don’t think you’ll have the same effect happen (on Sunday).

“The runs will be greater, and the guy up front is still going to try to block, but I guess it’s a matter of how nice the guy behind you is, and whether or not he’ll hit the brakes or drive through you.”

Cars trying to push each other are another potential hazard.

“When you get bumped from behind, they want to turn sideways the wrong way,” Busch said. “Somebody is going to get crashed from behind tomorrow from being pushed and not being able to control that slip on the straightaway.

“But we’ll play it out, and hopefully tomorrow I can just walk out of here at the end of the race.”