After the performance Kyle Busch and the 18 team put on at Richmond Raceway, there’s no reason to think even Talladega is too daunting to stop its winning streak.
The sign of any sports team that’s truly hot is when it can win even when it’s not quite on top of its game. For Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew, that was apparent on Saturday night on Richmond Raceway, and they’re undeniably scorching hot after a third straight NASCAR Cup Series win.
Busch’s Toyota Owners 400 victory wasn’t a “where did he come from?” robbery, but it was definitely a mini-heist. The team missed its qualifying setup, forcing Rowdy to start the race 32nd. He charged into the top 15 pretty easily during Stage 1, then even higher to sit sixth when the green and white checkered flag came out.
Still, it looked like the Fords were going to settle the race among themselves, then perhaps Martin Truex Jr. was going to finally get his first short track win. When multiple caution flags muddled the last 50 or so laps, Busch took advantage, because of course he did.
Might he have had his hands full with Truex if not for a disastrous pit stop for the 78 that cost it eight spots on pit road? Maybe, but that’s also an example of why the 18 bunch are clearly superior to everyone else right now. They don’t make critical errors like that, or like the penalty that Kevin Harvick’s team incurred for throwing equipment (yes, really) on pit road.
Winning four in a row is a much different beast than taking three straight, which is why drivers have rarely done it in NASCAR’s modern era. Busch is going to attempt it with the highest possible degree of difficulty, considering next weekend’s race is at Talladega, where so many more factors are out of your control.
Still, there’s reason to think that as long as he can avoid being in the “Big One,” Busch can absolutely pull this off. He’s won this particular Talladega race before, though that was a decade ago. His last five spring Talladega races have led to three finishes of third or better, though there was a 37th in there as well. That’s restrictor plate racing for you.
The point is that while Busch and his team will need both a top notch performance and some luck to be in contention for a fourth consecutive win, you can be pretty confident that they will take care of that first part. They’re just on that much of a roll right now.