Clint Bowyer isn’t currently covering NASCAR for Fox, as the NBC family of networks is broadcasting the sport for the second half of the 2023 season, but the former Stewart-Haas Racing driver has opinions. He shared a few of them on the August 23 edition of NASCAR Race Hub, including expressing his concern for Kyle Busch and the No. 8 team heading into the playoffs.
Appearing on the show with Aric Almirola, host Josh Sims asked the two guests their thoughts on the Richard Childress Racing driver’s summer slump. Unsurprisingly, the always-animated Bowyer didn’t hold back.
“I’m really concerned, Josh. Yes, I’m an RCR fan, a Kyle Busch fan,” Bowyer admitted. “This No. 8 team, we talked about William Byron, how he started the year, what we saw when we started the season. You saw it with Kyle Busch right off the bat with the Clash.
“All of a sudden, you get halfway through the summer; I talked about that faucet, we’re out of water. Something is going on big time. We’ve got to figure it out. Whatever it was that they had, I’m pretty sure RFK, Keselowski and camp, they found whatever it was. We got to find it back and get this eight-ball rolling.”
Kyle Busch Has Struggled Since Mid-July
During the back half of the summer, referenced by Bowyer, Busch has seen a dramatic drop-off in performance.
The two-time champion’s troubles started in New Hampshire in mid-July, where he wrecked in qualifying and started the race from the back of the field. His weekend went from bad to worse when he crashed at the end of Stage 1 and ended his day early. He finished last in 36th.
And the decline was just getting started.
He scored a 21st-place finish a week later at Pocono, followed by a third at Richmond. The next two weeks the 38-year-old finished 37th and 36th at Michigan and the Indianapolis Road Course, respectively. He finished 14th on August 20 at Watkins Glen.
Kyle Busch Started Strong in First Season at RCR
The poor results for Busch in the last six races are undoubtedly his worst stretch of races in 2023, and it’s even more alarming considering how well he had performed earlier on the schedule in this, his first year at RCR.
After a 19th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, where he led the race heading into overtime, the future NASCAR Hall of Famer sent a message to the rest of his competitors in the second race of the year at Fontana by securing his first win in the No. 8 car.
That early success for the driver, whom some had begun to question his ability after winning just four times in his final three years with Joe Gibbs Racing, proved that he was still more than capable of reaching Victory Lane. But he didn’t stop there.
He recorded two additional wins at Talladega and Gateway, and in early June, many considered him one of the frontrunners for the Cup Series title.
While it’s easy for Bowyer and others to question Busch for his lack of success in the most recent stretch of races, when looking at the full picture, it’s evident, like all drivers, he’s had his struggles throughout the season, including DNFs on the Bristol dirt and at Kansas. Each time, he’s rebounded in a big way with victories.
There’s no reason to believe Busch can’t replicate that same pattern in the 2023 playoffs and potentially find himself advancing to the championship race in Phoenix. And if that happens, it’ll be hard to bet against him, knowing he’s already been down this path before and taken home a pair of trophies.