Sonoma Raceway Notebook: Kyle Busch Sees Next Steps On NASCAR Cup Career Win List Reachable

Kyle Busch (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

SONOMA, Calif. – With his victory last Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway, Kyle Busch now has 63 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, most among active drivers and ninth all-time.

Busch needs 13 more victories to catch eighth-place Dale Earnhardt Sr. and 20 more to equal the totals of Jimmie Johnson and Cale Yarborough. 

As a driver keenly aware of statistics, Busch has thought about the prospect of advancing up NASCAR’s career win list.

“Yeah, I mean I would have said during the 2015-to-2019 time frame, when I was winning five or six a season, that it was definitely attainable,” said Busch, who came to Sonoma early to induct his brother, Kurt Busch, into the West Coast Stock Car Motorsports Hall of Fame on Thursday night. “And then we kind of slowed down the last few years, and I would have probably told you I didn’t know if I’d get there. 

“And then this year, we’ve got three and I feel like there’s plenty more. So hopefully we can continue to showcase that at RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and with the No. 8 Chevy to go out there and win some more. I think anything is possible. I think it would be more fair to talk about it when I at least hit 70, which could probably happen by the end of next year—so hopefully it does.”

Martin Truex Jr. is enjoying a new resource in 2023—Tyler Reddick

Martin Truex Jr. has three NASCAR Cup Series victories to his credit at Sonoma Raceway, but the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota hasn’t been prominent in discussions of possible winners in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Admittedly, Truex struggled mightily at Sonoma in the 2022 debut year of the Next Gen car, starting 28th and finishing 26th. Truex was winless last year but his cars have shown much more consistent speed this season, as his triumph at Dover and six top-10 finishes in the last eight races indicate.

When it comes to road courses, Truex has an additional resource this season. No driver has been as successful on road courses as Tyler Reddick, who won at Road America and the Indianapolis Grand Prix Course last year and at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in April.

Reddick switched from Chevrolet to Toyota with his move to 23XI Racing this year, and that gives Truex another set of useful information to absorb.

“Yeah, for sure it is,” Truex said. “Especially the simulator stuff and then looking at his data. Everybody was looking at his data at COTA. I guess the benefit for us is that we get to ask him questions and hear about it—‘Why did you do this, and why did you do that?’ 

“I think there is a lot of benefit to that these days. Definitely, the simulator time as well. We’ve only raced the one road course this year, so we still have a lot to go and a lot to do here, but for sure it was crazy impressive what he did at COTA.” 

Review of Talladega crash brings safety enhancements to NASCAR’s Next Gen car 

After a thorough review of a Talladega wreck involving Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece, NASCAR has mandated new safety measures for the Next Gen Cup Series car, effective for the July 9 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

The most significant changes involve the addition of a steel plate welded to the right-side door bars to help prevent intrusion by another vehicle and a general “softening” of the front end of the car through modifications to the front bumper strut and front ballast.

The latter changes are designed to help dissipate energy during a wreck and lessen the impact on the driver and, again, to decrease the likelihood that the nose will intrude into another car. 

During the Talladega race on April 23, Larson was running near the front of the field when he spun after inadvertent contact, slid across the apron onto the infield grass and shot back up the track across traffic, collecting Preece. 

The impact of the nose of Preece’s No. 41 Ford tore part of the body work from the right-side door of Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet and bent the door bars. Fortunately, both Larson and Preece were unhurt during the crash.  

Asked on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway what he thought of the safety enhancements, Larson replied: “Yeah, I mean not an engineer, so I don’t know. I can’t look at it and really give you an opinion on how well they did with the changes or whatnot.  

“But I am very happy that me being in that wreck at Talladega—and seeing how close it got to being really bad—seeing them go straight into action, compile data and make quick moves on improving the safety was something I was happy to see.”

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