CONCORD – Kyle Busch isn’t eligible to earn points when he enters NASCAR Nationwide Series races.
Busch races for trophies, of which he has 11 this season. He’s also a part of a greater goal. Busch’s No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing-owned Toyota is up for the Nationwide owners points championship, a crown Busch pushed the team closer to when he won the Dollar General 300 on Oct. 11 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The No. 54, which has also been driven by Drew Herring, Owen Kelly and Joey Coulter, leads owner points by four over the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford usually piloted by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski or Ryan Blaney.
Busch’s win at Charlotte gave the No. 54 the owner points lead. He said the team is determined to hang onto it over the final three races. He’s not thinking about the close margin, nor is Busch considering what the No. 22 team is doing to catch them.
“I think the points race is what the points race is,” Busch said. “I certainly had cost us some points earlier this year with some wrecks and some stuff like that and blowing a motor in Daytona (in February) and everything else.”
Most of the “everything else” Busch was referring to relates to his 11th-place finish at Daytona in July, and a crash and 24th-place showing in August at Watkins Glen.
Other than those mishaps, Busch has finished in the top 10 in every race he’s entered.
Kelly contributed a fourth-place finish at Road America in June. Herring won a pole and posted two top-10s. It seems no matter who drives the No. 54, they have success behind the wheel.
“It's nice to be still in the hunt that we have that opportunity to go into these final three races (and win the championship),” Busch said.
JGR hasn’t had the same kind of luck with its other cars, the Nos. 11, 18 and 20. Matt Kenseth piloted the No. 18 to two wins, but Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers – preseason drivers' championship favorites – haven’t reached victory lane.
It’s tough to win when your teammate collects most of them.
“Certainly, you want to win every single one of them. That’s what we’re here for,” Busch said. “You lose a lot more than you win, that's for sure. It's great to be able to win this much, and I can't say enough about this team and everybody on this car.”
Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, said it wasn’t as easy as it looked at Charlotte.
“It was a battle for us from when we unloaded off the truck,” he said. “I was just a little too aggressive with the race adjustments going into the race so we had to work hard to get it back under us. We knew it had speed when we got the balance right.”
The challenge now is to keep the balance under the No. 54 for three more races.
“It's not make it or break it,” Busch said, “but it would certainly be nice to be able to bring it home considering these guys have won the last four Nationwide Series championships on the owner's side and (we want to) to continue that trend and put them where they deserve on the stage in Miami."