Cup Championship 4 profile: Kyle Busch

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Following a devastating wreck in the 2015 Xfinity Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch came back to win his first Cup championship that season.

Busch missed the first 11 races recovering from his injuries but made up for lost time by earning a career-best five wins that season (he also has five this season), including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway that clinched the Cup title for him.

But Busch has carried somewhat of an asterisk next to his name in that championship season in the eyes of some fans, who feel he won the title without a full 36-race, season-long effort.

Now, the younger Busch brother has a chance to finally put those criticisms to rest by winning the championship Sunday.


Crew chief: Adam Stevens

2017 wins: 5 (Pocono II, Bristol II, Loudon II, Dover II, Martinsville II)

2017 Top 10s: 21

Laps Led: 1,980 (second in series)

Championship 4 history: Won it in 2015; Made it in 2016, finished third.

Memorable race: Passed Martin Truex Jr. with 33 laps to go to cap off a dominating performance in second playoff race at Loudon, leading 187 of 300 laps. He then doubled up by also winning the following week at Dover.

Playoff march: Started slow with 15th-place finish at Chicagoland, but then won at Loudon to earn automatic berth in Round of 12, then won at Dover. He struggled in Round of 12: 29th at Charlotte and 27th at Talladega, but 10th place at Kansas was enough to advance to Round of 8. Martinsville win put him into championship race.

Why Busch will win the title: Capped off 2015 championship run with win at Homestead. Now, with more attention focused on Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, that’s exactly the best position for Busch to be in, as he thrives in situations like this. Also, Adam Stevens is one of the best crew chiefs in the game. If the race is decided on strategy, it’ll be because of Stevens.

Why Busch won’t win the title: Homestead hasn’t exactly been friendly to Busch. In 12 starts, he has one win, two top fives and only five top 10s.

What Dale Jarrett says (on if there’s a driver better at handling pressure than the younger Busch brother: “No, not really. You can say Kevin Harvick might be one, but Kyle Busch has proven that he knows exactly what to do. He’s had his back up against the wall, he’s come back from adversity, he’s got a great team and understands exactly what has to happen in this situation. I think the way he deals with pressure is with just tremendous talent. He believes in what he can do in a race car that others can’t do and that’ll get him by any pressures that might beat him.”

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte: Denny Hamlin showing ‘remarkable consistency’

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Things have been going relatively well for Denny Hamlin on the track in 2018.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway sixth in points. Through five races, he’s finished outside the top six once (17th, Las Vegas).

NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan discussed his season so far in addition to Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.

Letarte said Hamlin has displayed “remarkable consistency.”

“Denny Hamlin is in my mind a super star driver that I know I am guilty of leaving him out of super star conversations,” Letarte said.

Ryan pointed to mistakes on pit road that have prevented Hamlin from enjoying more success this season and in his career overall. His result at Las Vegas was the result of a speeding penalty.

“Five races this season, four pit mistakes,” Ryan said. “He overshot his box at Daytona, he did that at Fontana, he sped in the pits at Phoenix. While I think they’ve had speed, I think that team is still stumbling in the same ways it has in the past. Unless they correct that, I don’t know if they’re championship level yet.”

Hamlin heads to Martinsville where he has won a career-best five races.

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Trevor Bayne on Charlotte Roval: ‘You have to be on your game’

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Rain washed out the second day of Goodyear tire testing Wednesday on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval. Goodyear has tentatively scheduled May 1 as a make-up test date.

Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson took part in the test Tuesday.

“I just took some slow pace laps and got a feel for the race track,” Bayne said in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t anxious because I was never going to go out there and make qualifying laps. We worked our pace in and our plan, we stuck to it. I felt really good by the end of the day.

“You have to be on your game, that’s for sure. You can’t really let your guard down anywhere. There’s no room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it pretty quickly. If you try to do something and it doesn’t work, you’ll pay the price. It’s going to be a survival race. … If you’re smart, you take care of your car and you don’t make mistakes, you’ll have a really good shot at the end for a good finish. I enjoyed it. It was a challenge for me – something new – and I enjoyed that part of it.”

Organizational tests at Charlotte will be in July. There will be two different sessions. Each team is allowed to test at one of the two sessions, which will be July 10 (rain date of July 11) and July 17 (rain date of July 18).

The Charlotte Roval hosts the final race of the first round of the Cup playoffs on Sept. 30 on NBC.

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NASCAR issues two fines for unsecured lug nuts at Auto Club Speedway

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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

No other penalties were announced.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Drivers to watch, favorite sports upsets

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to look forward to this weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan from the “Big Oak Table” in Charlotte.

What to expect from today’s show.

  • The same names have been dominating the headlines in the first five races in the 2018 season. We will take a look at some of the other drivers to be on the lookout for as the season rolls on.
  • One of NASCAR’s most historic tracks is up this weekend – Martinsville! We’ll check out some of the recent drama “The Paperclip” has provided ahead of the race.
  • In the spirit of March Madness, our panel will tell us about their most memorable sports moments, as well as some of NASCAR’s biggest upsets.
  • Plus, The Indianapolis 500 will have a new home in 2019. We’ll have all the details on NASCAR America.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.