Less is More: The Road to a Sprint Cup Series Title for Kyle Busch Could Be Through Slowing Down

Applaud Kyle Busch for winning 24 races in NASCAR’s top three series in 2010.

Applaud Kyle Busch for winning three races in one weekend. Applaud Kyle Busch for setting the single season win record in the Nationwide Series. Applaud Kyle Busch for winning the Camping World Truck Series owners championship in the first year as a team owner.

Now give Kyle Busch a thumb down for running in so many races.

[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]There’s no denying or criticizing the fact that Busch loves and lives to race. He’s damn good at what he does and the fans are in for a treat whenever he climbs behind the wheel.

The big picture though, a Sprint Cup Series championship, is a different story. With all the talent that Busch possesses, it’s hard not to ask the question: when does the day come when it’s all put together and Busch takes home the biggest trophy of all?

He’s come close; in 2008 he dominated the regular season winning eight races before having a dismal Chase. It was his first season at Joe Gibbs Racing and looked to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Not so in the last two seasons. He missed the Chase in 2009 and went through a crew chief change.

In the meantime, he won a NNS championship (2009) and put his name in the history book in both there and the CWTS on a few different occasions.

Those accomplishments are great on the resume, but mean nothing down the long run. Busch’s job is in the Sprint Cup Series; his job is to win Cup races and championships.

For all the dominating Busch does in the minor leagues, the majors haven’t been as easy. In 2010 he won four races, the least of any series he competed in – he won eight in trucks and 13 in the Nationwide. It pulled his win total in Cup to 19 and he again qualified for the Chase, yet was never a factor.

“Good year,” he said. “You always want more. Want more Cup wins, maybe you’d trade out some Nationwide wins for some Cup wins but overall, to win two owners championships is pretty darn good.”

Good it was, but rewind to Busch’s previous statement, “… maybe you’d trade out some Nationwide wins for some Cup wins … “

That’s exactly what he needs to do and the way to do it is by not running so many races. Cut back even more on the part-time NNS schedule as well as the CWTS schedule.

Even at 25 years of age it’s possible to burn out and run yourself ragged. For Busch, running in three series is turning into too much and the road to a Sprint Cup title does not go through the NNS or CWTS series. Winning on Friday and Saturday’s are great, but when Sunday rolls around is Busch really at his best and refreshed?

Think about it a different way, running in so many races presents more opportunities to loss his cool. Avoiding those situations would make Busch a different driver.

Imagine a calm, cool, collected Busch every Sunday; that can only equal danger for the competition. What if Busch wasn’t already livid with NASCAR from the Nationwide race heading into the Cup race at Texas this past season?

Would he have lost his cool and taken a car capable of winning out of contention by being penalized two laps?

But it’s well known he wants to get to the 200 win mark and Busch fans can only hope it doesn’t take his focus away from the big picture. Winning all those races would be an incredible feat and will further add to Busch’s pages in the history book.

Except, will his name be there under a driver that knew how to win a lot of races or could win races and championships?

A lot goes into winning a championship with focus being a major part. One of the reasons Jimmie Johnson has been said to be so good and have won five straight titles is through intense tunnel vision. He and his No. 48 Lowe’s team see nothing but the Sprint Cup Series championship. Kyle Busch sees every trophy in front of him and wants them.

Nothing wrong with that but wouldn’t a Sprint Cup title on the mantel look good too?

How much better can Busch be if he didn’t have to go back and forth between garages? What if Busch’s tunnel vision only included the Cup Series?

This is not the first time that the question has been asked. What brings it forth again is that it’s becoming a little more apparent that those who try and pull double duty don’t end up for the better.

Contenders for the Sprint Cup title the last few seasons did not race as much as Busch does. Now five-time Cup champion Johnson doesn’t wonder outside his No. 48 to compete in anything but the Cup Series.

Busch’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, only ran in four NNS races this past season. He finished second to Johnson in the championship after winning eight races. In 2009 Mark Martin won five Cup races and finished second in points. Third place finisher Jeff Gordon won a race as well.

That year, Martin ran one NNS race. Gordon has run a Nationwide race since 2000 when he ran in five events. He like Johnson hasn’t strayed from the Cup Series.

Look back even further, to 2005, the last time a driver not named Johnson won the title. Tony Stewart took home his second Sprint Cup championship after only competing in 12 Nationwide races that year.

Competing in one series has paid off in big ways for these drivers. Of course this past season Kevin Harvick ran in almost as many NNS and CWTS races as Busch and was able to finish third in the Sprint Cup points. Carl Edwards pulled double duty in 2008 and finished second in points to Johnson.

Yet for Busch, his success hasn’t carried through all three series in the same year. So, why not take a year to try something different, try racing less.

He will be a Sprint Cup Series champion one day and a multiple champion at that. If he took one year to slow himself down however, that day might come sooner than it currently appears.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


  1. Although running less races would allow for more focus on cup, That would not guarantee a Cup Championship. Luck or lack of it, Played a bigger roll in the last two years. Any short track driver will tell you, Seat time is the biggest factor in success. What Kyle does in my estimation is give himself the best chance for victory. Those people that think he needs to drive only cup. Maybe when the cup car arrives at the track it needs to be close as his Nationwide cars or his trucks, Most of the time they struggle with one problem or another. I say keep it up kyle, You won’t be young forever!


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