Kyle Busch missed a shot at the Dover triple Saturday, failing to win the 5-Hour Energy 200 Nationwide event because of late-race pit strategy. He had won Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race and had a potent car Saturday.
Saturday’s disappointment is likely to put more fire under Busch for Sunday’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks Sprint Cup race. And he could use a win.
With Sunday’s race marking the halfway point of the Sprint Cup “regular season,” Busch sits 11th in the standings, 113 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, despite the fact he has two wins. On the flip side of the coin, Busch has failed to finish three races, more than any other driver in the points top 14.
Since winning at Texas in the season’s seventh race, Busch has failed to finish two of five races and has four results of 24th or worse. During that stretch he has fallen from second in points to 11th.
Busch has been bitten by engine troubles and other maladies this year.
“Everything’s happened to us,” he said. “Something will fall out of the sky … wait, that’s already happened.” He was referring to last week’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where his first-place car was damaged by a falling rope that had supported a television camera over the track.
Busch led 65 laps at Charlotte but failed to finish the race after his engine expired. He was 38th.
Johnson is the current king of Dover with seven career wins, but Busch also knows the track’s passing lanes well. He has two wins and seven top fives in 16 races and has led 750 laps at the one-mile roller-coaster of a track.
Busch will start third in Sunday’s 400-lap race. His teammate, Denny Hamlin, won the pole Friday, and Martin Truex Jr. was second.
Matt Kenseth will start fourth, followed by Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray.
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.