Kyle Busch Locked In

Kyle Busch’s seventh-place finish in last Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway marked his eighth top-10 finish of the season. But it was much more than just another top-10 finish for the driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Crispy/American Heritage Chocolate Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). It meant Busch successfully pulled off a feat that many people – including himself – weren’t exactly sure could be possible.

After missing the first 11 races of 2015 because of injury, Busch had just 15 races to not only win at least one race, but to overcome a 179-point deficit in order to make it into the top-30 in driver points. Not only did Busch make it, he won four races and clinched his position within the top-30 prior to the final race of NASCAR’s regular season Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

For Busch and his team, the pressure is off this weekend as, for this one race, they’ll not have to worry about points and can race purely for the victory.

There’s even better news – they head to one of Busch’s favorites racetracks at Richmond, site of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400. Busch’s numbers at the .75-mile short track tell the story. His most recent win at Richmond in May 2012 was the fourth of his career there to go with four runner-up finishes and an amazing 13 top-fives in just 20 career Sprint Cup starts in Virginia’s capital city.

The Las Vegas native has an average finishing position of 7.4 at Richmond, tops among active drivers. Next best is Kevin Harvick, whose average finish there is 8.3. Busch has completed all but one of the 8,016 laps available to him at Richmond. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 6,932 laps, or 86.5 percent, which is second-most among active drivers.

This weekend at Richmond, Busch and the M&M’S Crispy/American Heritage Chocolate team look to get back to the level of performance they exhibited there when they won four consecutive spring races from 2009 to 2012, which bested Richard Petty’s previous record of three Richmond spring-race wins in a row from 1971 to 1973. With those impressive statistics and records to back him up, it’s little wonder that a visit to the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia” is one of Busch’s favorite stops on the NASCAR tour.

So as the series wraps up the regular season Saturday night, Busch and Company hope to finish off their storybook comeback with their fifth win of the season – since the pressure is off for just this one race.