Kyle Busch: ‘We can’t afford days like this’

MADISON, ILLINOIS - JUNE 02: Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 Rebel Bourbon Chevrolet, exits the track after an incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 02, 2024 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch was worried coming into Gateway. Not necessarily about his standings in the points, he’s 14th, but about a personal record.

Busch has won at least one race in the last 18 years. His goal is to make it at least 20 consecutive seasons with a win.

Sunday at Gateway he lost a chance for the win he needed.

Busch has been struggling all season; his best finish was a third at Atlanta. He came to Gateway as the defending winner from last season.

After starting 10th, Busch was among those contending for the lead. Pit strategy early in the race left him outside the first Stage, but coming to the final lap of Stage 2, Busch was running seventh and, in a door -to-door battle with Kyle Larson who was eighth.

The two came out of Turn 4 side by side with Larson on the inside. The two made contact on the front stretch and Busch, apparently none too happy with that meeting, seemed to try and squeeze Larson down the track coming into Turn 1 to keep him behind him. The move backfired however, and Larson got loose and spun under Busch sending Busch into the outside wall and out of the race.

“I’m sure it’s my fault,” Busch said sarcastically, “But, hate it for my guys, we can’t afford days like this, you know, just hate it for them and trying to race for a playoff spot and gradually fall in there a little bit

“Just, yeah, he got loose and wiped us out.”

Busch later added that Larson’s motivation was probably about getting another Stage point.

“It looked like he (Kyle Larson) got loose down the front straightaway into turn on,” Busch said. “He was on older tires and trying to get us for a spot. I’m not sure what that single point would mean for him, but it certainly hurt us a lot. It took that point away, as well as the others that we would get for the stage and then also the rest of the day.”

His last win was at Gateway, his third in 2023, but sadly that was his last of the season and he has gone winless so far in 2024.

“It’s very frustrating,” Busch said. “We can’t afford days like that. The No. 8 Rebel Bourbon Camaro wasn’t what it was last year, but it was a top-10 car, and we were going to finish there. Now we’re not going to finish at all.”

It was his first DNF of the season and he will head to Sonoma next week still in need to keep his streak alive.

Greg Engle