Kyle Busch was practically an afterthought during the 2012 Sprint Cup season, and that’s never a good thing in the Kyle Busch world.
The numbers speak for themselves. Busch won only once, had four DNFs and failed to make the Chase, finishing 13th – one spot behind the Chase Dozen – in points. Fuel mileage issues and other sour engines also stained his season.
It was, decidedly, a non-Kyle Busch sort of year.
It might be said that Busch will be racing Carl Edwards , another non-Chasing star last season, to get to the first green flag of this year.
“We just need some luck on our side,” Busch said Thursday. “Realistically, most times you win a championship you got to have it all together. You got to have good equipment, you’ve got to be a good, smart racer, and you’ve got to have your crew chief making good calls.
“But, also, you’ve got to have some racing luck go your way. Brad Keselowski (last year’s champion) had some racing luck. He missed my wreck at Kansas. He missed the (Jeff) Gordon-(Clint) Bowyer wreck at Phoenix and some other instances. You have to have some of that go your way to win these things. It’s not something you can control.
“Unfortunately, we had a tough year. It wasn’t one that either of us wanted. You look more toward the positive things and what these guys are working on here and what Toyota is working on behind the scenes.”
A bad year is not fun in any circumstances, but last year’s also came in Busch’s contract year. He renewed with Gibbs with a multi-year extension but not before pondering offers from other teams, he said.
“I did meet with some other teams, and they were very interested, and there were some very nice, lucrative, I guess you’d say, deals that were out there to pursue,” he said. “Ultimately, what it comes down to is relationships and things you’ve developed over five or six years here – the relationships I have with Coach Gibbs and J.D. (Gibbs, team president) and the Toyota folks and M&Ms folks.”
Will he be with JGR through the end of his career?
“You never say never, never say no to anything,” Busch said. “I did have options, which was awesome. I felt like this was the best place for me.”
As part of the new deal, Busch is scheduled to drive 25 Nationwide Series events for Gibbs. Busch also will continue to operate his own Nationwide and Truck team.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.