The driver of the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota Camry is very happy with his team. Kurt Busch finished top-five for the second consecutive week and raved about how his NASCAR Cup Series team does not give up.
“I guess we’re third now. Somebody got penalized,” Busch told media members after the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 20, video courtesy of Noah Lewis. “The way our Monster team continues to not give up and learn from each situation. Our main goal was to run all 500 miles, and the car has a couple scratches on it, but we were out there for every run to gather data.”
Busch’s day at Atlanta Motor Speedway featured a vibration, as well as damage from a wreck that unfolded in front of him. Tyler Reddick’s No. 8 Chevrolet cut a rear tire and went into a spin as he raced right in front of Busch’s No. 45. The 2004 Cup Series champion had nowhere to go considering that Christopher Bell was right on his inside, so he hit the No. 8 broadside and sustained some damage.
Despite being the first person to hit Reddick, Busch still continued to compete during the 500-mile race. He completed every single lap and made his move into the top five during the final lap. He finished fourth overall, but a penalty issued to Bell for dropping below the double-white line moved the No. 45 team up to third overall.
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Busch Has Strong Stats at Atlanta Motor Speedway
The third-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway helped Busch immensely in terms of points, but it also continued a major run of consistency. He officially finished top-10 for the 17th time in 32 total starts (53.1%) and top-five for the ninth time (28.1%).
Busch currently leads active Cup Series drivers in terms of production at the Georgia track. He has four wins, including the summer race during the 2021 season, and he was the last person to reach Victory Lane on the previous configuration.
This success at Atlanta Motor Speedway has not been with only one team. He has actually won with three separate teams prior to joining 23XI Racing. He first captured the checkered flag in 2002 while driving for Roush before returning in 2009 and 2010 with Team Penske. Busch’s run of success also included his win with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Busch Now Sits Well Above the Cutline
Busch has completed his first five races as a member of 23XI Racing, and he has showcased his ability to compete while dealing with failed inspection, on-track incidents, and penalties. He has yet to finish outside of the top 20 in his first year as a Toyota driver.
The veteran is now fifth overall in the championship standings with 148 points. He sits in a tie with Ryan Blaney and is only two points behind Atlanta winner William Byron. Chase Elliott is currently the points leader with 171 points despite having no stage points or race wins.
Elliott may have the top spot, but he does not have a sizable advantage. There are 16 drivers within 50 points, including two within 20. Joey Logano, who holds the second spot, is only seven points back from the 2020 Cup Series champion.