Season Review: Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch won five times in 2017. (Photo: Getty Images)

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2017 Race-by-Race Results | 2017 Detailed Statistics

Consistently inconsistent. Dominant, but lackluster at times. Successful, but still lacking.

All those phrases can be used to describe Kyle Busch’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. 

Kyle BuschThe 2015 Champion won five times in 2017 and started from the pole eight times, but came up one spot short in his bid for a second championship in NASCAR’s top series, finishing second to Martin Truex Jr. in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

Through the first 20 races of the season, Busch racked up four poles, seven top-fives and 10 top-10 finishes, led 1,040 laps and his average finish was 13.6. But the one statistic still showing a goose egg was in the win column. 

Busch was in position many times over the first six months of the season to go to Victory Lane, only to have one problem or another take him out of contention. His winless streak, which reached the one-year mark in late July, seemed to be coming to an end as Busch dominated early at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leading 87 of the first 110 laps in the Brickyard 400. 

His shot to win was taken away on a restart when he and Truex got together in Turn 1, sending both into the wall and to the garage. Crew members from Truex’s team exchanged words with Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens following the race, eventually leading to a suspension for the Furniture Row crew members involved. 

Busch’s winless streak would end the following week when he started from the pole, led 74 laps and won at Pocono Raceway, his first career Cup Series win at the Pennsylvania track. 

"It's pretty cool, finally being able to get the monkey off our back, get to Victory Lane this year,” Busch said. "It’s been a long time coming. It's well documented, it's been over a year, but it's finally very rewarding to achieve victory, especially here at Pocono."

Kyle BuschIf Busch needed a jumpstart to his season, the Pocono victory was it. Over the final 16 races of the season, Busch amassed four poles, five wins, seven top-five finishes, 12 top-10 finishes, he led 983 laps and had an average finish of 8.9. 

Two of those wins included back-to-back playoff race wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway in September. With momentum on his side entering the Round of 12, Busch was immediately brought back down to earth with a 29th-place at Charlotte Motor Speedway to start the round, followed by a DNF after a crash at Talladega Superspeedway. Busch was able to advance to the Round of 8 with a 10th-place finish at Kansas Speedway following a string of misfortune for other Playoff drivers which allowed him to advance. 

After stumbling through the Round of 12, Busch kicked off the Round of 8 by winning at Martinsville Speedway after late-race shenanigans opened the door for him to Victory Lane. The win not only locked him into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he also made history by winning the first NASCAR race at the historic Martinsville Speedway under the new LED lighting system which had been installed earlier in the year. 

"We weren't great, but we just kind of kept ourselves running up front all day long,” Busch said. "Awesome pit stops kept us up there, as well. Real proud of all of our guys, our whole team, and being able to get ourselves another opportunity to go race for a championship here this year."

With his shot at a championship secured, Busch finished a lethargic 19th at Texas Motor Speedway and seventh at Phoenix Raceway as he went to Miami looking to do what he did just two years ago - win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship. 

After starting third, Busch was a fixture near the front of the field for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, exchanging the lead in the mid-portion of the race, but it wasn’t until Lap 178 when took a firm grasp on the top spot. 

Using differing pit strategy, Busch stayed out when other leaders pitted, using a one-stop strategy for the final stretch run to the checkers when other leaders were using a two-stop strategy. The plan was working fine as Busch had a huge lead over the field until a caution for debris flew on Lap 229. 

With the field bunched back up, Busch was unable to keep pace with Truex in the closing laps and finished second in the race and second in the standings. 

“Yeah, it wasn't quite what we wanted there at the end,” Busch said. “I thought we had a really great race car, especially on the long runs we were really, really good.

“It’s hard going to Homestead and being part of the final four and only wanting to win and that’s the only thing that you care about and everything is just a failure,” Busch said. “It’s disheartening. It’s disappointing. But in all retrospect we gotta go focus on what’s ahead in 2018 and make sure we’re better than what we were this year to not let that same failure happen again."

Kyle BuschWhere can Busch improve in 2018 from his 2017 season? The small details of course.

“I think there were a lot of things we did really well this year,” Busch said. “There were a couple things we can clean up on. Qualifying this year, our average was seven something, and I think that was the best of the series and of my career for sure. Where do we improve? We just gotta fine tune and keep making little adjustments to continue to make ourselves stronger and that much more challenging to beat.” 

Click to View Season Reviews for Each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Driver

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