Kurt Busch is one of Toyota s top performers
Toyota has been underperforming in The NASCAR Cup Series this season, leading many to wonder if one will even make The Final four this fall? Keep in mind that Toyota also currently sits third in manufacturer points, and is a total of 25 points back. Their leading drivers are Martin Truex Jr and Kurt Busch, who sits seventh and 11th respectively.
With that being said, and The Las Vegas native’s improving performance over the last couple of weeks, one would have to imagine this making him a dark horse for the title. Not only is this evident by him being one of the top Toyota finishers in the entire Cup Series, but also by how he seems to be getting better over time. He is the best Toyota has to offer and that alone is worth considering him for a spoiler at the title
#4 Kurt Busch has not won a NASCAR Cup Series championship in 18 years
Can you believe that it has been 18 years since Kurt Busch won The Cup Series title in 2004 at Homestead Miami Speedway? It feels like forever ago for many reasons, but it might not have to be. Of course, the Las Vegas native still has some hills to climb before putting himself in position for a title, but he is ripping off some pretty good finishes right now.
The best part is that he seems to be improving his performance every time he takes the track. Unfortunately for Busch, he dealt with problems at Daytona, and COTA, but finishes pretty well at oval tracks. In the end, it would be nothing short of shocking to see a wily veteran come back and win another championship after being out of the spotlight for so long.
#3 The next-gen car levels the playing field for everyone
NASCAR was searching for parity with the introduction of their new next-gen car, and while there have been some bumps in the road, it has created a lot of interesting results. These include six different winners in the first six races of the season, a record number of lead changes at several tracks, some of the most intense racing seen in decades, and many first-time winners as well. Pit Bull literally won his first race as a car owner at Circuit of The Americas in Texas, cementing him into history. Do you know who else will get cemented into the history books? The person that wins the first next-gen championship.
Where does Kurt Busch come into this though? Although he isn t the top contender right now for the title, he has created enough of a conversation around him being a contender. Furthermore, with his improving performances every week and being one of the top running Toyotas in the field, it s only fair to consider Busch a contender for a title. Things are probably more balanced at the Cup level than any other time in recent memory. This gives veterans like Busch a chance at winning a championship, even though the sport is primarily being dominated by their younger talent.
#2 Kurt Busch finishing 4th at Phoenix
Although a fourth-place finish by Kurt Busch at ISM Speedway might not seem like much at first, one has to consider the implications. For those that aren t familiar, The track is home to the final race of the NASCAR Cup Series season, where four drivers face off in a heads-up battle for the championship. In other words, the highest finishing driver wins the season title.
Busch might not have gotten the win at Phoenix, but he is one of the only drivers in the top-16 right now that finished strong. . For example, Chase Elliott, who sits first in the points standings, finished 11th at Phoenix. That s not a good showing for a guy that won the championship there two years ago. The point is, he has a pretty good chance compared to some of those guys if given a chance at the Final Four. He also has arguably one of the most historically dominant teams in JGR behind him as a satellite team. This gives him an edge if Toyota does manage to sort out its performance issues.
#1 Kurt Busch in his first year with 23XI Racing
No one expects Kurt Busch to win a championship in his first year with 23XI Racing and that is exactly why The Las Vegas native is the perfect candidate to do so. NASCAR media can talk about all the growing pains they want. They can remind fans that Busch hasn t won a championship in 18 years, but they can t deny the legitimacy he is showing this season.
While Busch did have a tough go at it during the first few races of the 2022 season, especially with a 19th place finish at Daytona, he has recovered nicely in recent weeks. In fact, Busch took home an 8th place finish at Fontana, a Fifth place finish at Phoenix, and a third-place showing at Atlanta. Those are tracks that The NASCAR Cup Series is going to revisit come playoff time, meaning that Busch has the perfect starting point to build a championship-winning ride for Phoenix.