Kyle Busch’s bad luck continues with late-race pileup at Nashville

LEBANON, TENNESSEE - JUNE 30: Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 zone/Thorntons Chevrolet, exits his car and reacts after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 30, 2024 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch was in position to keep the streak alive. Having won a race every year for the past 19 seasons – the longest such streak of any driver in the history of the sport – Busch had a shot for 20 when he restarted in fourth during a third attempt at Overtime, having climbed through the field from his 27th-place starting position.

Just being in fourth was an opportunity in itself for Busch. In a previous Overtime attempt, Kyle Larson tagged Ross Chastain, sending Chastain spinning right in front of Busch as the field stacked up. Busch was able to check up and incur minimal damage, and NASCAR let Busch return to the fourth position for the next restart, basing it off the last timing line the field crossed before the caution, giving him another chance at that all-important win.

But it wasn’t to be. As drivers were stretching their fuel capacities to the limit, Larson was unable to fire from the outside of the front row as leader Hamlin took off, leading to the cars behind him piling up. Busch ended up the odd one out, getting spun into the wall with terminal damage.

LEBANON, TENNESSEE – JUNE 30: Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 zone/Thorntons Chevrolet, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Celsius Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, and Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Interstate Batteries Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 30, 2024 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

While Busch was clearly frustrated as he got out of his car, he collected his thoughts following the race.

“I’m proud of everyone on the Zone team and at RCR for their effort today,” Busch said. “We struggled early but our guys kept making changes to our zone Camaro throughout the race. Randall Burnett made great calls to put us in position to score a top-five finish.

“Those cautions at the end of the race and into overtime really worked against us because we were close on fuel. On that last restart, we were fourth when the No. 5 [of Larson] ran out of fuel just ahead of me and I had nowhere to go.

“It’s frustrating for sure but we’ll bounce back next week in Chicago.”

The day was just the culmination of a streak of bad luck and poor finishes for Busch and the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team this season. Busch explained earlier this season at Martinsville that he was still trying to figure out the Next Gen car, particularly on short tracks, and transferring performance on the simulator to performance on the racetrack. Since then, his performance has not particularly improved, especially worsened by a ‘frustrating’ DNF at Gateway that contributes to him being solidly outside the Playoff picture on points.

Busch might be more resigned with his bad luck, but it doesn’t appear to be going away, even when he gives himself chances to run up front.

Owen Johnson