Kyle Busch came into Sunday’s FanShield 500 at the Phoenix Raceway as the odds on favorite to be the one celebrating in victory lane at the close of the weekend. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was coming off of a runner-up finish in his No. 18 Toyota last Sunday at the Auto Club Speedway to go along with having four consecutive top two finishes on the 1-mile Arizona oval too.
Busch though, fell just short in a third place result this weekend instead. It was a positive to come away with two top three finishes in as many weeks. It was also a positive to grab nine top four finishes in his last 10 Phoenix starts too.
This Sunday though, well it was a bit different than the past dominances. Busch, didn’t lead a single lap all afternoon. That comes after failing to lead a lap last weekend in Fontana too. He had great long run speed but lacked the short burst that it took to overtake Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick during the late restarts.
Busch, yet again didn’t feel like they had a race winning caliber race car this weekend.
“We unloaded and we weren’t very good, I didn’t think,” said Busch. “I wasn’t too optimistic for the race and rightfully so. I think we probably had a sixth or seventh place car, but we had a lot of strategy there at the end with tires and all that sort of stuff – good restarts and being able to make time up on the bottom. Once you get that close to the front, you can’t make up that time anymore so that’s kind of where we lost our ground there. It’s good to come home third.”
Busch, didn’t think that he had enough fire.
We were really slow to fire-off and later in the going we were getting better with longevity, but still we were a ways off. Felt like that when we unloaded and we made some ground on it and got it a heck of a lot better, but just couldn’t get it where we needed it there throughout the race. The 2 (Brad Keselowski) was probably the fastest car. The 22 (Joey Logano) was pretty quick and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was pretty quick.”
That’s three straight weeks now that Busch hasn’t had race winning speed. He has been able to climb back up the points though in stealing these top fives.