Busch provided the insight during a brief interview with PRN. He explained that the “barriers are down” for the younger drivers, which helps them better adjust to the new cars. He specifically mentioned the rise in drivers using simulators and virtual platforms as ways to prepare for races, marking a major change from the early days of his Cup Series career.
“The youth side of it, it’s easier now because the barriers are down and the opportunities are there,” Busch explained. “Simulation work is taking up more and more of the prep time, and that’s something that you have to adapt to as a veteran. We used to have two hours of practice, and we would get our cars dialed in through sets of tires.
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“Now we have 20 minutes, and you gotta have all your homework done before you show up. And now is the test. The test starts with 20 minutes of practice, qualifying, and then a four-hour race. It’s very different now.”
The Youth Trend Began in 2021
With Ross Chastain winning the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, he became the sixth driver under the age of 30 to reach Victory Lane in 2022 while joining Kyle Larson, Austin Cindric, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, and William Byron. He also continued a trend that began in the late stages of 2021.
Denny Hamlin was the last driver over the age of 30 to win a points-paying Cup Series race. He captured the playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 26, 2021, doing so at the age of 40. One week later, Bubba Wallace kicked off the current youth movement by winning the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers followed Wallace’s win by capturing the remaining races of the 2021 schedule. Bowman won at Martinsville Speedway while Larson captured the races at the Charlotte Roval, Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
Busch Will Pursue His Own Win at Richmond Raceway
The 43-year-old Busch has not reached Victory Lane in a Gen 7 car. However, he has two top-five finishes and a top-10 to his name, which have helped him secure the 12th spot in the championship standings. He remains in contention for a playoff spot based on points.
Busch will now try to snap the streak of young winners during the race at Richmond Raceway. He will climb back into the No. 45 Toyota Camry at a track where he has 41 previous starts with 15 top-10s and seven top-fives. Busch also has two trips to Victory Lane in his championship-winning career.
The 2004 Cup Series champion first won at Richmond in 2005 while defending his title. It was his third win of the year, following those at Phoenix Raceway and Pocono Raceway. Busch added his second win at Richmond Raceway during the 2015 season while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. This win, his first of the year, secured his spot in the playoffs.