By: Lee Spencer
Call it the Kyle Busch rule.
When NASCAR introduced the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Chases for 2016, Cup veteran drivers were barred from participating in those tours’ season finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Less than six weeks after Busch won the truck race at Chicagoland Speedway, the final race of the regular season for that series, NASCAR announced it was tweaking the driver qualifications in the lower level tours again.
"You feel a little bit of satisfaction in people wanting to kick you out because you’re too good."For 2017, current Sprint Cup drivers who have been in the series for more than five years are limited to 10 NXS and seven truck races per season. Those five-year veterans are embargoed from competing in the regular-season finales, all Chase races and, in the case of the Xfinity Series, the four Dash 4 Cash events.
Any driver competing for points in the Sprint Cup Series is barred from racing in the Truck and Xfinity championship races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Being too good
Busch, who holds the record for most NXS wins with 86 and is second to Ron Hornaday with 46 truck victories, doesn’t consider the new rule a setback. He looks at it as a badge of honor.
“It must be, because I didn’t hear the hate mail from (Kyle) Larson winning at Texas,” the 2015 Sprint Cup champion told the Motor Racing Network when asked if his success played into the decision. “It just is what it is.”
Busch won two of the four truck races he competed in this year — including the regular-season finale at Chicagoland, where series regular Daniel Hemric finished second. Hemric tied William Byron for the points lead in the regular season but Byron’s wins broke the tiebreaker. Busch beat John Hunter Nemechek in his Martinsville win by .425-seconds.
Kyle Larson, who is in his third season of full-time Cup racing, was the only other non-truck driver to win on that tour when he was victorious at Eldora Speedway. Larson, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon also won twice on the Xfinity tour, but it was Busch with the lion’s share of 10 of the 22 NXS victories earned by Cup drivers.
In 17 Xfinity starts, Busch also posted nine poles and 14 top-five finishes. At Indianapolis, the final Dash 4 Cash race, Busch won from the pole and led all but one lap — when he came to pit road. The top NXS regular was fifth-place Justin Allgaier.
Erik Jones won two of the Dash 4 Cash races, at Bristol and Dover, but no one complained when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Richmond International Raceway either.
“It’s unfortunate, but at the same token, you feel a little bit of satisfaction in people wanting to kick you out because you’re too good," Busch said. "But ultimately, where are you going to go if they kick you out of racing Cup? I guess (Jimmie) Johnson hasn’t been kicked out of there yet. So I still have a chance in my hand of racing here.”
The bad side of the new rules
Still, Busch pointed out the potential monetary ramifications of rule change. While not being able to select certain races might slow Busch’s need to expand his trophy case, the exclusion of Cup drivers could prove detrimental to team owners’ pocketbooks.
“It certainly hurts the business side of Joe Gibbs Racing and myself a little bit,” Busch said. “The Truck Series, I don't think I'd probably run more than five or seven, so that's not too bad. The schedule of events in which I can choose from probably hurts a little bit. I like going to Texas, I like going to Phoenix, I would probably run those in the Xfinity side or the truck side in the fall time of the year, and you know, it also hurts on the Xfinity side with Joe because we've got a partner that was going to pay for 16 or 18 races, whatever it was, and now we're cutting him back to 10.
“What we do with that extra funding is going to be crucial to figure out, whether we can keep it in house or whether we just hand it back to him and give him a refund check.”
Kyle Busch: "People want to kick you out because you're too good"