Kyle Busch on possibility of Chase in Xfinity Series, future of Truck team


It was a “whirlwind” 48 hours for Kyle Busch after winning his first Sprint Cup title Sunday night.

A late night at Homestead-Miami Speedway turned into mid-morning in New York City. Then Busch took in Monday Night Football in Foxboro, Mass., before returning to NYC to appear on talk shows to share the story of his first Sprint Cup championship.

That championship came in the second season of NASCAR’s revamped Chase for the Sprint Cup, which has three rounds of three races before the championship race at Homestead.

A week ago, NASCAR Chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body would look at the possibility of incorporating a similar Chase format in the lower tier Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.

As the beneficiary of such a format, winning his first Cup title in 11 seasons, Busch shared his thoughts on the possibility of that in a teleconference Tuesday afternoon.

“I do feel as though it’s necessary to still keep some sort of integrity, and maybe that was the point of the first Chase format where you do have to average through 10 races rather than just having it come down to three races at a time,” Busch said. “I feel like it would be more exciting in the NASCAR Xfinity Series to change to some sort of a Chase format and have more guys eligible down towards the end of the season.”

Chris Buescher won the Xfinity title Saturday by 15 points over defending champion Chase Elliott. While four drivers had a mathematical chance to be the champion, Buescher, in his second full Xfinity season, had led the points since winning at Iowa Speedway, the 10th of the season’s 33 races.

“I still think you’re going to see the same championship‑caliber drivers contend for that championship when it comes down to the final race in Homestead,” Busch said.

Those championship-caliber drivers on championship teams are part of the reason Busch, who operates Kyle Busch Motorsports, wasn’t able to keep an Xfinity team going past 2013. The team started in 2011 but shut down after 67 races and one win in 2012.

Now KBM peaks in the Camping World Truck Series. Friday night, Erik Jones won Busch his first driver’s title as an owner since the operation began in 2010.

“I definitely feel like we’re in a really good position with where we’re at,” said Busch, whose only Xfinity win as an owner was at Richmond in 2012 with brother Kurt Busch behind the wheel.

“It just didn’t quite seem right, and it was just really hard to continue to compete with those guys that are at the Joe Gibbs Racing team or the Penske Racing team on the Xfinity side,” Busch said. “It was really expensive for us to try to keep up with those guys, so we opted out and just stuck with the trucks.”

KBM will run three trucks in 2016 a season after seven drivers competed over the course of 2015 for KBM, including Daniel Suarez in 13 races.

“To have three Truck series teams, I think that’s good,” Busch said. “I mean, we could be four, but I’ve still got to be able to get the third team up and running and as good as I want it to be with crew chief and leadership and team and people and everything like that.

“I feel really good with where we’re at with the two, with Rudy Fugle and Jerry Baxter being the two crew chiefs on those two trucks.”

Fugle served as crew chief on Erik Jones’ No. 4 Toyota Tundra, which won three races in its championship campaign. Baxter worked with Busch, Matt Tifft, Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez.

The young drivers in the full-time trucks next season are William Byron and Bell. Byron, 17, won the K&N Pro Series East title and made his Truck debut two weeks ago at Phoenix.

Bell, 20, comes from a dirt racing background and drove in seven Truck races for KBM in 2015, winning the third annual Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in his third start.

Busch doesn’t have any illusions either driver will follow-up Jones’ title in their first full seasons in the Truck series.

“I’m definitely optimistic that we could have a decent year,” Busch said. “I’m certainly not expecting any of them to contend for a championship, although they may. They may surprise me, and that’s fine.”

Of Byron, Busch said the K&N champion “certainly caught our eye with his success that he’s had over just the short period of time he’s been in a race car the last couple of seasons.”

Busch, a 44-time winner in the Truck series, had more to say about Bell and his transition to pavement. Bell had one win and three top-10 finishes in his seven starts.

“I think that he ran reasonably well,” Busch said. “I’m sure he learned a ton. I’ve definitely talked to him a little bit here and there about his experiences thus far this year in the Truck series races that he ran. As far as running on dirt, that was all we expected him to do, so that was pretty cool for him to get that first (win) out of the way.

“But now moving him to pavement and especially moving him to the mile‑and‑a‑half races and to Daytona as his first race next year, we’ve got to make sure that I and we give them the best opportunity to succeed with equipment, as well as with myself, and just being able to communicate with them and talk to them and give them everything that they need to lean on me and ask me all the questions that they can in order to have everything they need to be prepared for each week.”