That other Busch wants a win in Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 14: Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 GEARWRENCH Chevrolet, waits during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Rhino Pro Trucks Outfitters 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

While his younger brother Kyle has a Las Vegas Monster Energy Series race trophy on his mantle, Kurt Busch is still vying for that first hometown hardware. In 19 races at the Vegas 1.5-miler, Kurt Busch has only two top-five finishes and five top 10s. His best showing is third back in 2005. He has only two top 10s in the last eight races, however he was fifth in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet just this March and led 23 laps – only the second time in the last nine races he’s led the field.

“I’ve always been on the gas too hard here,’’ Busch said this week. “I just need to settle in and let the race come to the team and not put too much pressure on the guys and on myself. It’s about coming in loose and confident and executing as a team.’’

A win is not only a sentimental reward but with Sunday’s South Point 400 being the 2019 Playoff opener, a victory could be crucial to advancing to the second round of the Playoffs. Busch, who won at Kentucky, is ranked eighth among the 16 Playoff drivers.

Both he and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson have qualified for the Playoffs – only the third time in the last five years both CGR cars have raced for the championship. And while Busch wouldn’t go so far as to declare himself a championship “favorite” he does feel optimistic about advancing.

Busch has wins at six of the 10 Playoff venues, including Richmond, Dover, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami.

“I feel like we went to the cashier and we cashed in our chips and now we’re wanting more,’’ Busch said of his team. “We want to push in and we know we can be a contender if we go and balance the things we need to do as a team. That’s to execute with clarity and consistency and confidence.

“This first round, there are a lot of things that can happen in Vegas, Richmond and then the (Charlotte Motor Speedway) ROVAL. I think once we clear that, that’s when we start moving towards the championship run that I know we can put up.’’