Diamonds are not Kyle Busch’s best friend

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 16: Kyle Busch(#7 Spire Motorsports Group 1001 Chevrolet) looks on during qualifying for the running of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Weather Guard Truck Race on March 16, 2024, at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Asked why simulations haven’t helped him master the short-track package on the Next Gen Cup car, Kyle Busch provided an answer more than vaguely reminiscent of a song recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, titled “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”

“I would say ‘There’s nothing like the real thing,’” Busch said. “There’s nothing like the ‘asphalt dyno,’ as my dad would always say—going to the racetrack with your stuff and competing against the rest of the competitors to see where your shortcomings are.”

When it comes to racing at Bristol since the advent of NASCAR Next Gen Cup car, the converse of another song title comes to mind. Diamonds have not been a man’s best friend, as far as Busch is concerned.

Although Busch has eight victories on the Bristol concrete, most among active drivers, his two finishes in the Next Gen car are 34th (with an engine failure) and 20th, two laps down.

“I’d always run this place more round… like I would always try to make it as much of a circle as I possibly could, and now you kind of run this place in a diamond,” Busch said. “You go up to the wall. You try to come off the wall. You come up the wall, you know what I mean? So it’s more diamond-shaped.

“It’s definitely a different way of running it. That seems to be a little bit more of the faster way this day in age. It’s a different technique to get used to, but that’s not to say that I can’t do it. It’s just a matter of sometimes you can’t out-race your own equipment, and you’ve got to go and get what you can get out of it, but nothing more.”

Busch will start 14th Sunday.