Kyle Busch Fires First Shot of 2024 in Speaking Out for Fans

Kyle Busch stands at Daytona.

Getty Kyle Busch on pit road at Daytona.

Kyle Busch has come close to winning the Daytona 500 on several occasions, including a runner-up finish in 2019. He joked last year that he won the Daytona 499, leading when a late caution came out to send the race into overtime. In the 2024 edition, the Richard Childress Racing driver had a wild up-and-down day at the 2.5-mile superspeedway that included multiple trips through the field but ultimately ended with a 12th-place finish. 

A week after Daytona, the two-time champion visited with reporters on February 25 in Atlanta and talked about the season-opening race and missing out on winning the Harley J. Earl Trophy for a 20th time. A reporter also brought up another hot topic from the Great American Race — drivers running half-throttle trying to save fuel. Unsurprisingly, as fans have grown accustomed to over the years, Rowdy didn’t sugarcoat what was on his mind.

“I believe it’s a problem,” he admitted. “The start of the race last week for the Daytona 500 we’re all sitting around there running half-throttle, not passing, just riding in a line, and I felt disgraceful, myself, being a race car driver wanting to go fast and lead laps and win the Daytona 500. And that was our strategy that we had to employ at the start of the race because everybody was doing it. 

“I mean the pace, when you’re running wide open and you’re in the draft, your pace is probably a 46.30. We were running 49.80s. Almost 50-second lap times. It was pathetic. I was like, ‘How slow are we gonna go?’ I felt bad for the fans. This is not good for them. It’s not what I want to be doing.”

Denny Hamlin Agreed With Kyle Busch Earlier

While Busch was vocal in his opinion about Daytona, he wasn’t the first. Days before on his February 20 “Actions Detrimental” podcast, Denny Hamlin discussed his own race and also expressed his disappointment in using fuel strategy at superspeedways and, more specifically, on the sport’s biggest stage with more people watching. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” Hamlin admitted. “It was a 175-mph pace lap for lap after lap after lap. I got on the radio to (crew chief) Chris (Gabehart) and I’m like, ‘This sucks. I want to race.’ I want to battle. I want to shoot through the middle. I want to go to the bottom and top, but I couldn’t because the field’s jammed up. 

“Everyone’s trying to save gas because that’s the type of racing we have now. And then nothing happens until a pit stop.”

NASCAR Planning to Address Concerns

Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are two of the biggest names in the sport. Their voices matter. NASCAR Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer revealed as much during his February 20 appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio when he detailed how the sport has evolved through the years and why saving fuel has even become a strategy, but, more importantly, what the governing body is going to do about it. 

“Over time, 76 years of NASCAR racing and our race teams are just so good and our drivers are so good and the strategy and the preparation that goes into these events, they don’t leave any stones unturned,” Sawyer said. “In the Daytona 500 and superspeedway racing, in general, has kind of come down to that and basically what you’re trying to do is spend the least amount of time on pit road that you can so you’re getting through those stoppages, whether it be Stage 1 or 2, you’re getting the opportunity to gain some track position so it is something that we’re looking into.

“Ultimately, we want the drop of the green flag on the race and they’re racing as hard as they can until we drop the checkered flag. There’s some strategy in between there and we will definitely take a much deeper dive at this particular situation and the strategy that goes into it.”

What that looks like nobody knows at this point. What is certain is Busch, Hamlin, and their fellow competitors didn’t like the show they put on at Daytona. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see how that might have positively influenced the February 25 Atlanta race, which by most accounts will go down as one of the greatest races in the 76-year history of NASCAR.

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