Race Weekend Central

Kyle Busch is Amazing and There’s Nothing to Be Done Except Learn to Beat Him

That M&M’s Caramel No. 18 was a comin’.  I could see it happening. Like a shark hunting its next meal, Kyle Busch slowly worked his way toward the checkered flag and the inevitable outcome teased at NASCAR Nation. This is exactly how it happens.  How an incredibly talented racer turns into a legend.

There are those that could argue that Mr. Busch has already moved into the legendary category with stats that could put Jimmie Johnson’s to shame one day. However, statistics do not always determine when a driver will determine the narrative of NASCAR.  Matt Kenseth should have become a spokesman for the sport, but he never generated the interest or controversy that a headliner needs.  Busch has been accomplishing both of those in spades since day one.

Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 illustrated how he might not be the most-loved driver in the MENCS stable right now, but he is the target that everybody has in their sights.

Yes, Chase Elliott had fought his way to the front and had a nice comfortable lead with only 20 laps to go.  It really looked like we might have a Cinderella story at the end of the day.  The young gun would win his first Cup race with Jeff Gordon sitting on his pit box.  What a bookend for the beginning of a career!

But wait. What is that? Is that…the No. 18? And it’s getting closer.

I may have yelled at the television and denied the inevitable–it’s my duty as a No. 24 fan, after all. However, deep down I knew what was going to happen. Who did I think was more capable of weaving through lap traffic, the No. 24 or the No. 18? Which approaching vehicle would encourage lap down cars to pull over in order to protect their bumper and position, the No. 24 or the No. 18? Who had nerves of steel and was capable of blocking out all other distractions while they worked toward the finish line?

Which car was going to win?

Yeah, we all knew the answer.

Chase Elliott may be in his sophomore season, but he has been driving long enough that we know he isn’t going to rough somebody up just because they are in his way.  The pilot of the No. 24 is far more likely to lift off the gas and save his machine.  Kyle Busch on the other hand has done the suicide run for the finish line more times than I care to count.

The man was coming. We might not like it, but we knew. Even though NASCAR Nation let loose a chorus of rude noises when Busch lifted the checkered flag over his head, we all knew.

Maybe we will never call him the Intimidator, but the entire field is certainly treating that Toyota like it is being driven by somebody feared and revered by his fellow competitors.

We keep insisting that it’s the younger generation that will create renewed interest in NASCAR–however, it is going to be Kyle Busch that those youngsters are going to have to beat no matter what series they might be driving in today. Chase Elliott just demonstrated that it is going take more than a carefully balanced wheel and a championship caliber team to get it done.

Recall those glory days at the end of the 90’s as a whole host of exciting young drivers appeared on the scene? They all were focused on knocking one Dale Earnhardt off his pedestal.  Well, perhaps we get to watch it happen all over again. Isn’t that grand.


On Saturday afternoon Ryan Blaney took his No. 22 XFINITY car to Victory Lane, but not the checkered flag. In a spontaneous act of generosity, he handed it off to a young Kyle Larson fan who was standing on the sidelines at the end of the race. How cool is that?



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