DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Kyle Busch is inching closer to the best driver to never win the Daytona 500 category. Busch, had high hopes heading into this weekend’s 62nd annual Great American Race, as he was coming off of a runner-up finish in this very race a year ago to go along with being the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion.
Unfortunately, by winning the Cup Series championship in 2019, it’s not a very good omen for Busch to carry into Daytona. Only five times has the reigning Cup Series champion came down to Daytona the next February and actually won the Daytona 500. The last time that it actually happened was in the year 2000. Its only happened twice since 1978 overall.
Busch, started off great in his No. 18 Toyota as he and his four other Toyota teammates moved to the back on Sunday before the rain came and 24 hours later on Monday once the race resumed. They’d remain there the entire first stage before getting track position in Stage 2. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver would finish second in Stage 2 and run up front for the rest of the way and even led twice for 14 laps on Monday.
But, while leading on Lap 180, his car started having problems. A lap later, Busch said his engine blew and would slowly ride around the track. That was partially a blessing in disguise as he avoided the Lap 183 “Big One” two laps later.
Busch, was running right in the thick of things then and potentially could have been collected in that. He would have rather found out than blow up. He’d circle a couple of yellow laps before calling it a day with a 34th place effort.
“We’ll just keep going down in history of figuring out new ways to lose it,” Busch said on Monday.
Busch, is now 0-for-15 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. 11 of his 15 Daytona 500 starts have seen him finish 14th or worse. Eight of those 11 were 23rd or worse including six of his last eight 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, Brad Keselowski 0-for-11, Ned Jarrett 0-for-7 and so on.