Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Kyle Busch Should Race in Xfinity More

In an already busy week in news surrounding Kyle Busch in which he has been punched by two generations of Ricky Stenhouse before loudly proclaiming that he sucks, came something that fell a little under the radar.

Busch was announced to be driving for Richard Childress Racing in a one-race cameo in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this upcoming weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

See also
Kyle Busch Running Charlotte Xfinity Race for RCR

Busch, who “retired” from the series after win no. 100 came in 2021, is returning for his fifth start since then. After jumping from Joe Gibbs Racing for RCR after 2022, Busch made four starts in the series for RCR customer team Kaulig Racing in 2023. This will be his first start with RCR in Xfinity Series competition.

There’s a decent reason for Busch to come back to the series this season. Not so much for any of the reasons he named in the above video — RCR driver Austin Hill is leading the points. The NXS shop on the RCR campus is not in dire need of a Cup driver to come in and help them figure things out.

No, the real reason can be found in the numbers. With Busch’s self-admitted struggles this season, getting more track time and helping build his confidence up even a little bit could — and does — help him on Sundays.

The simple reality is that Busch is almost always a better driver for the Cup race when he’s pulling double duty on the weekend in either NXS or the Craftsman Truck Series.

That may seem like a bold claim. But it’s true, and the numbers can back me up on this.

In 2020, after four NASCAR point races, something called COVID-19 forced a dramatic shift in both the schedule that season and how NASCAR has conducted race weekends ever since. In 2020 and 2021, very few Cup weekends had practice or qualifying, in 2021 more to save money as teams prepared for a new car model the next year.

Then, since the start of 2022, NASCAR has severely limited practice time for the vast majority of races. All of this means that Busch has had less track time than ever before in his NASCAR career, a career in which he was usually full-time in NXS too before rules stopped even that.

So, with that in mind, I compiled all of Busch’s Cup results in all NASCAR points races since May 2020 to the end of last year and looked at three specific indicators.

The first is average finish, the second is average number of points scored in a race (which is a max of 60 and helps account for stage points), and the last is average driver rating. Driver rating is a subject for another day, but to make a long story short, it takes into account most loop data stats and spits out a number that is capped at 150.

Then, after finding those numbers for Busch in all of those Cup races by season, I then compared Busch’s numbers when he doesn’t race in another series to when he does.

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Dropping the Hammer: The Reasons for the NASCAR Punch Heard Around the World

As far as Cup doubleheaders in 2020 and 2021, if the Cup Series had raced on the same track within a week of the race, the second race counted as a companion race but not the first race.

Let’s take a look, starting with 2020.

Stat OverallW/O Race PriorWith Race Prior
Average Finish13.914.412.3
Average Points per Race29.729.829.5
Average Driver Rating92.993.192.4

2020 seems like a mixed bag, with Busch averaging almost two positions higher in the finishing order but ending up slightly under in the other two categories.

But then we get to 2021 and there’s no question.

StatOverallW/O Race PriorWith Race Prior
Average Finish12.815.94.6
Average Points per Race31.727.243.4
Average Driver Rating96.990.1114.7

This was the season with the least amount of on-track time for the Cup Series prior to the race, and it clearly shows with Busch’s stats here. His 43.4 points per race is higher than the 40 that race winners alone get.

2022 and then 2023 are more of the same.

StatOverallW/O Race PriorWith Race Prior
Average Finish16.717.114.2
Average Points per Race25.925.527.8
Average Driver Rating85.38681.5
StatOverallW/O Race PriorWith Race Prior
Average Finish1515.413.6
Average Points per Race26.125.329.1
Average Driver Rating80.178.585.8

So, although we all already knew that the all-time NXS wins leader is a headache anytime he shows up on Saturday, that performance helps him be even better on Sunday. This is true even with the new Cup car, in which Austin Cindric and Noah Gragson have struggled with after years in Xfinity, and Carson Hocevar has outperformed his veteran teammate after jumping straight from Trucks.

If the trend continues and Busch can perform well or even win the Coca-Cola 600 following his NXS start this weekend, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he shows up a few more times this summer. You may not like it, I may not like it. But it just might be the thing that can get him out of the slump he’s having in his day job.

About the author

michaelfinley010

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021, and also formerly covered the SRX series from 2021-2023. He now covers the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and road course events in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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Tom

Kyle is past his prime. I don’t see him at RCR next year. He’s going to be replaced by either Hill or Love. My money would be on Hill since Love will race in XFINITY at least another year.

Tom

He can go to hell! I thought I might try to just not pay attention to Kylie Bush, but one again, I find him obnoxious! Please tell him not to ruin IndyCar next year! Thug!

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