Kyle Busch bounces back to advance to Round of 12

LAT Images #18: Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M’s Hazelnut

Regular season champion and four-time race winner Kyle Busch left little doubt that he was ready to return to his race-contending ways. He led a race-best 202 of the 400 laps at Richmond Raceway last weekend, finishing runner-up to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. It was good enough to move him up a position in the standings and he is now third, 27 points behind the leader Truex.

It was a timely turnaround for the championship favorite, who suffered rare back-to-back disappointments – a 37th-place finish (due to engine problems) in the regular season finale at Indianapolis and a 19th-place finish in the Playoff opener at Las Vegas. He had dropped to fourth in the standings, so last week’s work at Richmond wasn’t just encouraging, it was a reminder of what he’s capable of. He, Truex and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who is second in the Playoff standings, all locked their positions into the Round of 12 which begins next week at Dover, Del.

Last year at the Roval, Busch was caught up in the 14-car late race accident and relegated to a 32nd-place finish on the day.

But his work on the two long-time Monster Energy Series road courses is much more encouraging for the 2015 series champion. He has two wins each at Sonoma and Watkins Glen – in fact sweeping the races in 2008 and winning again at The Glen in 2013 and a second time at Sonoma in 2015.

He has an impressive 12 top-10 finishes in 15 starts at The Glen. He has finished seventh or better in the last five races at Sonoma and has five top-five and seven top-10 results at the course.

“You try to go into that race (Roval), it’s a newer type of track and I don’t know that everybody has got it quite figured out yet,’’ Busch said. “With this new aero package, it’s going to be different and of course, too, with the new chicane it’s going to be different.

“We can go out there and attack it and try to get a win with our Camry, try to get some bonus points, get ourselves a bit of a cushion there.’’


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