Texas Motor Speedway

Remember the dominance of Tiger and MJ? Kyle Busch is in that company heading into Sunday

Big Mac Chat with Truck series driver Angela Ruch

Angela Ruch is scheduled to race on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway in the Vankor 350 Gandor Outdoor Truck Series race. She joins Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel for the latest edition of The Big Mac Chat.
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Angela Ruch is scheduled to race on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway in the Vankor 350 Gandor Outdoor Truck Series race. She joins Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel for the latest edition of The Big Mac Chat.

Remember when it seemed like Tiger Woods won every golf tournament he entered? Or when the Chicago Bulls couldn’t lose when Michael Jordan was on the court?

It’s been a while since sports fans have seen an athlete be so dominant in a sport. NASCAR star Kyle Busch is now in that class.

Busch, who will cap his tripleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, hasn’t just been one of the drivers to beat every weekend in NASCAR. He’s been unbeatable.

Sunday’s race will be Busch’s 15th start over the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. His truck win in the Vankor 350 Friday night was his eighth win of the season and he grabbed No. 9 in Saturday’s Xfinity My Bariatric Solutions 300, which is phenomenal.

Even crazier is the fact that Busch feels like he could already be in double figure wins in 2019.

So what’s it like being in that kind of zone?

“You can’t really explain it,” said Busch, who will be vying for his third career tripleheader weekend sweep Sunday. “That’s really the thing. There have been times this year where we’ve unloaded in the truck series and been terrible unloading and we’ve had to work on it to get it to where I like it.

“We wouldn’t have won races this year if I didn’t have smart people who were able to fix the problems I talk about. That goes with [crew chief] Adams Stevens and Ben Beshore, my Xfinity crew chief, as well as Rudy Fugle, my trucks crew chief. Those guys being able to listen and being able to give me what I need in the race car helps me be able to do what I need to do in races.”

It’s already been a historic season for Busch. He surpassed the 200-career NASCAR win mark and now sits at 202. He is 4 for 4 in wins in the truck series. He’s now 3 for 4 in the Xfinity Series after his 95th career win in the circuit Saturday.

Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will be vying for win No. 3 the Cup Series on Sunday where he’s finished in the top three in five of the six races and in the top six in every race. While those numbers are dizzying, Busch feels like he could even be better.

“Shoot we could have finished first, second or third at Atlanta where our worst finish was, we finished sixth,” said Busch, whose average Cup finish this year is 2.7. “We had a flat tire late in the going that kind of got us behind and we had to come back through from that. That was the worst-handling race and we still finished sixth. Could have, should have, would have been better. I could have won Vegas if I didn’t speed on pit road. There are a few races we’d like to have back and some opportunities that may have been missed.”

Busch said he’s felt like this before, pointing to the 2010 Xfinity Series. He won 13 times in the series, including a stretch of six wins in seven races. That year he also won eight times in the trucks and three times in the Cup series.

His domination hasn’t been lost on anyone watching the sport.

“You just see a guy that is at the top of his game with supreme confidence,” Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said. “When you’ve got that going for you, considering how good he is, it’s hard to beat. He’s the guy to beat every week, whatever you’re racing. You can’t take anything away from him. I think it’s pretty amazing. That sweet spot in time for most athletes, when you get in that area, you’re unbeatable. Right now he’s almost unbeatable.”

Busch hasn’t missed many opportunities at TMS. He’s the defending race champion and has won three Cup races at the track, all coming in the spring race. He struggled in qualifying, and he’ll start 16th. His team picked things up in final practice Saturday as he had the second-fastest car.

Wherever he starts doesn’t really matter with the way Busch is running. He knows all eyes will be on him. And that’s a good thing.

“We’re the guy to beat, we’re the team to beat,” he said. “Even in our own team, the No. 19 [ Martin Truex Jr.] , the 11 [Denny Hamlin] and the 20 [Erik Jones], they’re looking at us and how we can run like the 18 does every week. That’s a good problem to have. We’ve been fortunate to have the success we’ve had.

“The rest of the garage area is kind of looking at us the same way, knowing they have to come to the track every weekend to compete against the 18 car. I think they have to compete against Kyle and they have to compete against Adam. Adam’s one of the best guys out there right now. He’s doing a super job. I think that’s a strong suit. You already have them beat when you get to the racetrack.”

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