Busch still searching for his old Bristol feel with Next Gen car

It doesn’t come as a surprise to see Kyle Busch has one victory in his last four starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. However, what is a surprise is that his spring 2022 victory was not on the surface Busch often made a habit of dominating on throughout the years.

“The car really changes a lot … for me,” Busch said Next Gen. “We won here with this car on the dirt surface, but I would say that since we’ve been bringing the new Next Gen car to the concrete surface, I have not found my way with it yet.”

Next Gen, NASCAR’s seventh-generation race car, debuted in 2022. Busch won the spring race at Bristol that season; however that was the second edition of the dirt race. In the fall 2022 race on concrete, he finished 34th.


“I definitely had a way with understanding this place and having a sense of setup, and how to drive it and whatnot with the old stuff, but not with the new stuff,” Busch said. “We’ll see what happens here this weekend with our No. 8 FICO Chevrolet. [I’m] looking forward to the truck race — it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a truck here. I think the last time was ‘17 when I won. So certainly would be nice to come out here and go back to victory lane with one of those.”

Busch’s last win on concrete at Bristol came in the spring of 2019. Of his eight concrete wins, five have been in the spring race.

The numbers for Busch at Bristol have always been impressive, even outside of the Cup Series. He has victories in all three national series at the track and was the first driver to sweep all three races in the same weekend in 2010 (a feat he repeated in 2017).

He’s led nearly 2,600 laps at Bristol in the Cup Series and has an average finish of 13.9 in 34 concrete starts, with a best finish on concrete in the Next Gen of 20th.

“Bristol is a lot of rhythm, but it takes a feel of what you’re looking for here…,” Busch said of what’s been so different. “This car just drives a lot different, and it drives a lot different because of the limitations in which it’s built. It just has a different way of you needing to go about it. I’ve learned some of that, but I guess I’m not the best at figuring out how to be better than some of the other drivers. Or maybe their cars are better than my car, I don’t know. It’s not like we can swap seats.”

The plan of attack at Bristol has also changed for Busch in the last two years.

“I’d always run this place more round,” he said. “I’d always try to make it as much of a circle as I possibly could, and now you kind of run this place in a diamond. You go up to the wall, you try to come off the wall, you go up to the wall in the corner, you come up the wall [on the straight]. You know what I mean?

“It’s more diamond-shaped, so it’s definitely a different way of running it. That seems to be a little bit more of the faster way this day and age. It’s a different technique to get used to, but that’s not to say that I can’t do it. It’s just a matter of [not outracing] your own equipment, and you’ve got to go and get what you can get out of it, but nothing more.”

Busch was second fastest in Saturday’s practice session at Bristol. He qualified 14th, which is his best start in the Next Gen car on the Bristol concrete.

Sunday’s Food City 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX) is the first spring race on the concrete at Bristol since 2020.

Story originally appeared on Racer