Mechanical Setback Disrupts Cup Champion’s Road America Trip

Kyle Busch

Getty Kyle Busch has favorable odds for the Cup Series playoffs.

The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion will have to overcome an early setback at Road America in order to contend for the win. Kyle Busch will have to start from the rear of the field for the July 3 road course race due to a mechanical issue.

NBC Sports provided the update after qualifying on July 2. Busch posted the 13th-fastest lap time to secure a spot on the seventh row, but the team noticed an RPM issue during the session. They decided to switch out the engine of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry to possibly prevent any significant issues during the Kwik Trip 250.

Busch will have to work his way back through the field with a new engine in the No. 18 Toyota Camry. He will have 62 laps to accomplish this goal at a track where he has previous success. Busch won the Xfinity Series race at Road America in 2021 before finishing third overall in the Cup Series race.

Interestingly enough, July 3 will mark the second consecutive year that Busch has started from the rear of the field at Road America. He had to go to a backup car in 2021 after a wreck in practice, which dropped him to 40th in the field for the start of the Cup Series race.

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Busch Has Dealt With Multiple Pre-Race Incidents in 2022

Kyle Busch

GettyKyle Busch has recovered from previous mechanical issues.

The race to Road America marks the second consecutive time that Busch had to drop to the rear of the field. It was also the third time in 2022 that the driver of the No. 18 has dealt with an incident in practice or qualifying, albeit to a lesser degree.

The first instance occurred during the trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway a tire went down and sent the No. 18 into a slide. It collided with the wall and caused a considerable amount of damage. Busch went to a backup car for the Pennzoil 400, but he ultimately finished fourth overall after securing points in all three stages.

The second and most recent incident took place at Nashville Superspeedway. Busch spun during qualifying, and he hit the wall. The No. 18 did not sustain much damage, but the Las Vegas native was not able to post a qualifying lap. The team also made unapproved adjustments prior to the green flag.

Busch ultimately finished 21st at Nashville Superspeedway, but this doesn’t tell the full story. He and the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers dominated while combining to lead 250 of the 300 laps, but a late caution created a difficult decision. The drivers had to either stay out on the track with few laps remaining, or they needed to pit for two to four tires.

The JGR group headed down pit road while Chase Elliott and many others stayed out on the track. Once the green flag waved, Elliott held off the field and won his second race of the year. Busch dropped further back and finished outside of the top 20.

JGR Has Struggled at Road Courses in 2022

JGR drivers have combined to win three races in 2022. Busch won at Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt) while Denny Hamlin captured the races at Richmond Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. A JGR-affiliated driver in Kurt Busch added a win at Kansas Speedway.

The two veterans along with Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell have shown speed at a variety of tracks, but the program has struggled at road courses in 2022. Bell finished third at Circuit of the Americas while the other drivers posted an average finish of 21.0. Busch also spun out multiple times during the road course race. Though he had help from Chase Elliott during one incident.

Once the teams headed to Sonoma Raceway, the Toyota drivers struggled to contend for the win. 23XI Racing’s Busch had the best finish for Toyota at 18th overall. Truex, Bell, Busch, and Hamlin all finished outside of the top 25.

Busch told reporters ahead of the trip to Road America that the JGR drivers have had speed at road courses, but they haven’t delivered the results. The spins at COTA certainly played a role, but JGR is still seeking answers with multiple road course races remaining on the schedule.

“But I would say both road course events so far this year were not our strong suit,” Busch said, transcript courtesy of NASCAR Media. “Why we missed it? I don’t know. If I could answer that, we wouldn’t struggle, we wouldn’t have been bad. But talking to Martin Truex (Jr.), who tested for us at (Watkins Glen International), certainly not looking forward to going to The Glen either. They weren’t very fast there.”

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Mark Kiernan
Mark Kiernan
11 months ago

You can’t count KB out of it he’s one of the most talented drivers in the series.

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