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Kyle Busch’s 19-Year Winning Streak Is in Jeopardy

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, crosses the finish line ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Zero Sugar Ford, to win the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

1. Is Kyle Busch’s winning streak in jeopardy?


If you want proof that NASCAR is a game of inches, look no further than the NASCAR Cup Series’ race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February.

Kyle Busch finished third behind Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney by less than a blink of an eye. If he somehow gained .008 on that final run to the trioval, we’re talking about his 2024 season in a completely different light.

Had Busch won, it would’ve been the 64th win of his illustrious Cup career. It would’ve made 2024 his 20th consecutive Cup season with a win, tacking another year on to his all-time record. Winning Atlanta would’ve locked him into the playoffs on the spot, and all the questions, concerns, frustrations and disappointments in the three months since would become an afterthought.

But all of that is revisionist history. The reality is that after a 35th-place finish at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Busch is now below the playoff cut line, has struggled to find speed on a consistent basis and is in danger of both missing the playoffs and going winless for the first time in his Cup career.

All because of that damn .007.

Busch impressed right out of the gate at Richard Childress Racing last season, scoring a trio of wins at Auto Club Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Gateway. He sat third in points following the 19th race of the season at Atlanta, but there were cracks in the foundation. The 241 laps he led in 2023 marked the lowest total of his career, and he only led a combined 15 laps in the final 19 races of the season.

In the 32 races since that Atlanta race last July, Busch has had an average finish of 18.3 and just five top-five finishes. And after bringing a fast No. 8 car at Gateway last weekend as the defending race winner, Busch instead finished the race on a rollback in what could have been one of his best chances to break through this season.

At 20 points below the playoff cut line with only 11 races to go, it’s not an ideal situation for Busch. And while frustration may be boiling over on occasion (see Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the All-Star Race), it’s far too soon to say that this season is a wash for the No. 8 team.

To keep Busch’s winning streak alive, all it takes is one race. Remember 2020, when it looked like his winning streak was dead in the water? He kept it alive at the 11th hour by holding off Martin Truex Jr. to win at Texas Motor Speedway in the…

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