Kyle Busch Avoids Significant Pre-Race Penalty: Report

Kyle Busch

Getty Kyle Busch will not lose his starting spot at Auto Club Speedway.

The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry has avoided a major penalty. Kyle Busch’s team made a change to the stock car, but he will not have to drop to the rear of the field for the Wise Power 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX).

According to FOX Sports reporter Bob Pockrass, the No. 18 team replaced a transaxle, which is a sealed component. NASCAR approved the change, meaning that he avoided a penalty for an unapproved adjustment. Busch will be able to line up on the second row — third overall — behind pole-sitter Austin Cindric and Erik Jones. Busch’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, will join him on the second row.

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Busch, who has four Cup Series wins at Auto Club Speedway, had one of the fastest cars on February 26. He posted the second-fastest time in practice at 41.58 seconds. He was only .061 seconds behind Hamlin. Busch then finished .211 seconds behind Cindric in single-lap qualifying, narrowly missing out on the Busch Pole.

Several Other Drivers Will Move to the Rear of the Field

The driver of the No. 18 will not move to the rear of the field after the transaxle change, but there will be several others losing their starting spots for various reasons. The list includes five Cup Series champions and a Rookie of the Year contender.

NASCAR announced on February 26 that multiple drivers had failed inspection at least two times. The list included the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick, the No. 6 of Brad Keselowski, the No. 22 of Joey Logano, the No. 23 of Bubba Wallace, and the No. 12 of Ryan Blaney. The No. 45 of Kurt Busch, however, failed three times and did not receive the opportunity to qualify for a starting spot.

Of the cars that failed inspection, the No. 22, No. 6, No. 23, and No. 4 all had to go to the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments. Additionally, Ross Chastain’s No. 1 had to join them after a crash forced him to move to a backup car. Justin Haley’s No. 31 also went to the rear of the field after an oil cooler change.

The list grew mere hours prior to the green flag. The No. 5 team announced that Kyle Larson’s stock car required work due to an electrical issue in the dash. This update meant that the defending Cup Series champion would also lose his starting spot on the grid.

Busch Will Continue To Have Favorable Odds To Win

Prior to the trip to Southern California, BetMGM released the initial odds for the race at Auto Club Speedway. Larson was the favorite to win at 7-2, but he narrowly edged out Chase Elliott and Busch at 7-1 each. Days later, more eyes will be on Busch.

The driver of the No. 18 had the second-best odds before the trip, and then he showcased speed during practice and qualifying. This early performance combined with his past success at the two-mile track only increased the belief that he would contend for his fifth win at Auto Club Speedway.

Based on the practice sessions on February 26 where multiple drivers spun on the aged racing surface, there is no guarantee that Busch will win. However, he will start the race in a solid position to pursue this goal while the other drivers will try to make up ground.

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