NASCAR’s Kyle Busch races with an added burden while winning at Kansas on his birthday

Randy Covitz
·3 min read

Kyle Busch capped a birthday weekend to remember on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Busch, a two-time NASCAR Cup champion, swept both races, winning the trucks race on Saturday night and, most importantly, claiming the Buschy McBuschy Race 400 victory Sunday afternoon.

But Busch’s mind was not as much on his first victory of the season, or his second Cup win at Kansas or even a 36th birthday celebration.

His thoughts remained with his wife, Samantha, and son Brexton, 6. The Busches just endured their fourth unsuccessful bid at conceiving a second child through in vitro fertilization, and it’s been difficult to compartmentalize the pressures of racing and his private side of life.

“You talk about ups and downs of racing,” Busch said of what’s been an emotional season. “There’s been a lot of downs of life for us. I have a great opportunity and a great job, no doubt. But struggling with the infertility and stuff like that.

“Being able to have Brexton, and the miracle he is … for all the struggles we’ve had so far, the biggest thing we don’t take for granted for sure is Brexton and the miracle of him. That’s special to us and we want to have everything as enjoyable as we can for him and his life. If we can’t bring a baby sister into this world, and he’ll be an only child, and he’ll always wonder why, but it’s definitely not due to lack of effort, that’s for sure.”

Busch, who has now won at least one Cup race in 17 straight years, joining Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for second all -time behind Richard Petty’s 18, said it’s difficult to remain focused on racing when there are so many more important issues outside the race car.

“It’s hard sometimes,” he said. “When you go through the lows, you go through the disappointment, you go through the dejection and the non-understanding of just whether or not you can still do it,” he said. “There’s a sense of doubt there for sure. You just have to keep persevering, keep digging and putting your focus forward to be able to come out here and win this thing. “

Busch led only 20 laps in a race first dominated by Brad Keselowski’s leading the first 70 laps and Kyle Larson’s leading 132 of the 267 laps.

But just as he pulled out the trucks win in an overtime re-start, Busch, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, grabbed the lead from Larson on a re-start with 10 laps to go and held off Ford drivers Kevin Harvick and Keselowski by .336 of a second for the 58th Cup win of his career and track record eighth at Kansas Speedway across all three national series (two Cup, two trucks and four Xfinity races).

“I don’t really know what the key was to those restarts,” Busch said. “You don’t know who’s going to pick behind you. You can guess. A couple of the times that I guessed, I guessed right. A couple times I guessed, I guessed wrong. It’s just a matter of what’s going to happen behind you. I felt like if I could get (Martin) Truex behind me, that would be the best thing for us. Being a teammate, he would help push and I’d tell him when we’re going to get the best run we could. and it all worked.”

This was also the second time Busch has won a Cup race on his birthday, having won at Richmond on May 2, 2009.

Samantha and Brexton weren’t at Kansas to celebrate, but Busch said they’d observe it on Tuesday.

“She didn’t to leave me alone on my birthday,” Busch said, “but I told her I’m fine. It’s just a day. I hate birthdays. I’m closer to 40 than I am 30 anyway, so I don’t want to celebrate any more birthdays.”