Could NFL Quarterbacks Help Kyle Busch to Title?

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch heads into this weekend third in the points standings, but Kansas Speedway has been a house of horrors for him in recent years. (Photo: Toyota)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Kurt Busch has met Peyton Manning. Kyle Busch wants to be more like the NFL superstar.

Both Busch brothers are known to have R-rated radio channels during races when things aren’t going well, but Kyle Busch says he’s looking toward champions in others sports to learn how they face adversity.

It’s not surprising that Busch’s gaze turns toward the NFL since he drives for Joe Gibbs, who won three Super Bowls as a coach. Busch says he watches Manning and Tom Brady - he’s never met either - to gain insights into their success.

“It’s just more an appreciation and respect that you watch guys that are good at what they do,’’ Busch said Tuesday during a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “There’s a reason why Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls and he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. There’s a reason why Peyton Manning is considered the best in the league.’’

For years, many have said that Busch was among the sport’s most talented drivers but that he wasn’t strong enough mentally to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Look at the most recent Cup champions - Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. Each is viewed as having a mental toughness that allowed them to withstand the rigors of a 10-race Chase to win the championship.

That’s not a group many put Busch with.

Could that be changing? We’ll know in seven weeks. This week will be a test for Busch, who heads to Kansas Speedway third in the standings, 12 points behind series leader and teammate Matt Kenseth.

Busch could fall further behind this weekend. Kenseth has won the past two Kansas races. Jimmie Johnson, second in the points, has nine consecutive top-10s,  including two wins, at Kansas. Busch? He finished 38th in the spring, spinning twice. He  has one top-10 finish in his last nine starts there.

“I feel like I’m just as good as Matt Kenseth and as a Jimmie Johnson,’’ Busch said. “We have to figure out how to prove those things and make it happen through 400-mile and 500-mile races.’’

It could help that he took part in the tire test at Kansas this summer. NASCAR is allowing all teams to test Thursday afternoon since there is a new tire this weekend.

“I wasn’t a really big fan of the tire that we raced at Kansas,’’ crew chief Dave Rogers said. “It didn’t have any grip. It really didn’t let the driver hustle. The cars would just break loose without warning. That doesn’t bode well for us because Kyle is an aggressive driver.’’

This weekend could be a chance for Busch to take what he’s learned watching Manning and Brady and apply it if things again don’t go as well.

“I think the biggest thing is how they react to difficult situations with their team and what they do to get their team back focused,’’ Busch said of the quarterbacks. “You can watch Peyton Manning sit on the sideline ... and the other team scores and he knows he’s got to get back up there and do something well. You see that in our sport. There are guys running well, they’re running in front of you, they’re passing you, they’re going forward and maybe your’e not. You know you can do it, you’re capable of it, you’ve got to get your team to make that happen.’’

That means “not freaking out about going backwards’’ Busch said.

Manning and Brady likely wouldn’t lose control in such situations. Now, can Busch imitate them and enjoy similar success? 

Related Topics:

Kyle Busch, NASCAR Sprint Cup

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