DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Kyle Busch (+1100) won his second career Cup Series championship last November. That mixed with him having two top three finishes including a runner-up in last year’s Daytona 500 itself, bodes well for his confidence level on Sunday. But, what if I told you that only five times has the reigning series champion won the Daytona 500 the next year and the last time that it actually happened was in the year 2000. Its only happened twice since 1978 overall.
That doesn’t sound very favorable for a win this weekend after all for Busch.
Busch, is 0-for-14 in the Great American Race. While he finished runner-up last year and third in 2016, the rest of his results haven’t been all that great. 10 of his 14 Daytona 500 starts have seen him finish 14th or worse. Seven of those 10 were 23rd or worse including five of his last seven seeing him finish 19th or worse.
Busch, badly wanted to win multiple championships. He’s finally done so. Now, he so badly wants to etch his name in NASCAR lore with a Daytona 500 triumph too.
If he doesn’t ever get a chance to win this race, he will join a list of some very accomplished racers to have never done so either. Terry Labonte was 0-for-32, Mark Martin was 0-for-29, Rusty Wallace was 0-for-23, Tony Stewart 0-for-17, Martin Truex Jr. 0-for-15, Carl Edwards 0-for-12, Ned Jarrett 0-for-7 and so on.
But, Busch doesn’t want to end his career on this list and wants to put his No. 18 Toyota into victory lane for the second straight race (Homestead 2019) and become the first defending champion to win the Daytona 500 the next year in 20 years.