Daytona 500 tops bucket list for reigning champ Kyle Busch

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 08: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 08, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

With few holes left on his racing resume, reigning NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch eyes the Daytona 500 as the top item on his bucket list.

With 56 victories and two championships in NASCAR’s premier series, Busch is second among active drivers to seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in both categories. But winning the Great American Race as a feat still to be accomplished for the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

“It’s always kind of been up there near or at the top,” Busch said. “It certainly still is. It would be nice to get that box checked, and hopefully, one of these days we can figure that out. It would be nice if it’s a week from (Sunday).”

Busch came close last year, finishing second to teammate Denny Hamlin, as JGR swept the podium.

“I don’t really remember how the late restarts went, but I know Denny was leading on a late restart and then I beat him on a restart and got the lead,” Busch said. “I sustained the lead on another restart and then the final restart, Denny was able to beat me on that one.

“It just – obviously it hurt not being able to bring home that trophy and for Denny to be able to bring home two, but that’s just a part of racing. Hopefully we can get it done this year or whenever, sometime or another, before it’s all said and done, for myself to be able to at least have one.”

Another title would suit Busch, too. When Johnson retires from full-time Cup racing, Busch will be the only active driver with multiple championships, unless another duplicate winner emerges this season.

“It’s kind of odd that there’s only a two-time guy out there,” Busch said. “Everybody else is zero or one. It just kind of shows you the influx of newer, younger drivers and just how many of those guys that have won championships are now gone.

“The Tonys (Stewart), the Jeffs (Gordon), the Jimmies (Johnson) that no longer are here. Hopefully, it’s three (championships). I might could be the only one.”

Greg Engle