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Cup season has been ‘dismal and so heartbreaking’ for Busch

The NASCAR Cup series season was six races old and a theme was already developing for Kyle Busch.

“A lot of missed potential,” Busch said at the end of March.

Unfortunately for the two-time series champion, the statement is still relevant in early July. Busch and the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team have slid through the championship standings, and their results remain all over the board. And it’s been a mix of everything.

There have been weekends when Busch’s Chevrolet has lacked speed and balance. But there have also been weekends when Busch has had a competitive car only for misfortune to derail his day.

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“I’ve stopped keeping track,” Busch said Saturday. “It’s been so dismal and so heartbreaking that I have a hard time dealing with enough stuff in my life that every Sunday to keep adding to it is getting harder and harder to deal with. But [we] just have to keep going on into the next week and keep fighting on, and fight the good fight to try to score a win.

“Hopefully before the playoffs and if not, then at least in the playoffs.”

Busch is 17th in the championship standings but 19th on the playoff grid. He is over 100 points below the cutline and facing the possibility of not earning a postseason berth for the first time in the elimination era.

In his second season driving for Childress, Busch is winless after scoring three victories through the first half of the 2023 season. But that success, Busch admitted, masked some of the same struggles the team is presently going through.

“A little bit, yeah,” Busch said. “We were good at Fontana; that was a deserving win. We’re always fast at the speedways, and Gateway we were the dominant car, so that was a deserving win. But there are definitely some other places where we were fast and had some good speed that didn’t get the finishes we hoped for.

“This year, I wouldn’t say we’ve had that same speed, but let’s say we’re a fifth-place car. Well, something happens and we’re 18th. Or [Las] Vegas, we were a second-place car, and we couldn’t get on and off pit road all day, and we ended up in the 20s. So, it’s definitely always something.”

Richard Childress Racing announced on June 25 the retirement of Andy Petree, who had overseen the organization’s competition team. Keith Rodden is the interim competition director. However, more changes could be coming, as was the indication by Austin Dillon on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, as the organization continues to find the right puzzle piece.

“I’m not pushing for it, no, but Richard (Childress) and I have had some discussions on some discussion and trying to get better, trying to push in every area that we possibly can,” Bush said. “[The] body shop, chassis shop, assembly, all of that stuff. The competition side, the engineering side … making sure that we’re doing all the best we can and understanding the information that we have given to us the best we can.

“There are other Chevy teams who are able to do a better job than what we are with all of that. So, if we were the best of the Chevy teams and were struggling and not winning, then there would be a different problem across the board. But Hendrick [Motorsports] seems to be doing just fine, so we have to catch up to at least that.”

Story originally appeared on Racer