By Matt Courson, Staff Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Reigning champion Kyle Busch hopes to capture his first checkered flag of 2020 Saturday in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Busch is seeking a ninth win at the Tennessee short track Saturday, which would tie him for second on the all-time wins list at Thunder Valley. Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and Cale Yarborough ended their career with nine victories at Bristol. Darrell Waltrip holds the record for the most Bristol trophies at 12.
Busch is hopeful for a good run on Saturday after finishing fourth in the Spring race and second in the All-Star event.
“We’ve had some decent runs there in the first race, and then the All-Star Race went even better for us,” the younger Busch brother said. “And we were close there at the end but we were just a little short on that last stage, being as short of a run as it was, it just didn’t give us enough time to give our car an opportunity to shine.”
“We have not shown the short-run speed at Bristol, but we’ve always kind of been good after about 30 laps or so and our cars seems to really come in and run strong.”
Busch says that on a normal race weekend, the team uses practice and qualifying to fine tune the race cars, but because of the Coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR has scrapped all practices and qualifying.
“Obviously, with the success we’ve had there over the years, I feel really good about going there,” Busch said. “But we make a lot of adjustments typically when we get there. We go through practice, we are really fine-tuning a lot of different things and being nitpicky about a bunch of it to make sure we get it to where we want it for the race.”
“Bristol is an important place because, if you are going to run the bottom for a while with that traction compound that’s put down there, as that wears, the groove is definitely going to move up around the top toward the end of the race and you have to be ready for a lot of versatility. So you definitely have to understand some of those adjustments during practice is a big deal and we won’t have that, so we just have to get after it right at the start of the race.”
The driver of the No. 18 enters the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race 18 points above the Playoff Cutline, and a win would guarantee the driver a spot into the Round of 12.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images