It’s no secret, the driver of the year thus far in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has been Kyle Busch. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is not only pacing the NASCAR’s premiere series in victories (three) this season, but his 10-consecutive top-10 finishes through the opening 10 races has only been accomplished by four other drivers – Lee Petty (1955), James Hylton (1972), Cale Yarborough (1974), Morgan Shepherd (1990) – and hasn’t been done in 29 years. Busch, who celebrates his 34th birthday on Thursday, has 12 consecutive top-10 finishes going back to the end of the 2018 season.
And this week’s Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) may well be a place for Busch to further pad his numbers. He has 12 total NASCAR national series victories at the famed one-miler, including three in the Monster Energy Series, five in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and four in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
He has 17 top-10 finishes and 12 top-five showings in 28 series starts, including a series-best four more runner-up finishes in the past four seasons in addition to his three wins. Only the track’s all-time best Jimmie Johnson has more top-fives (17) or top-10s (24). Busch, who drives the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, has led laps in six of the last eight races. He won the pole position in the Playoff race at Dover last Fall and won the 2017 Playoff race at the track, however he finished 35th after a drivetrain problem in this spring race at Dover last year.
An 11th consecutive top-10 finish this week would tie a mark set in 1990 by Morgan Shepherd who began the season with 11 top 10s. Busch continues to lead the Monster Energy Series championship driver standings. He’s now 15-points up on Joey Logano and boasts the most stage wins (five) of the series.
“I love that place,’’ Busch said of Dover’s Monster Mile. “It’s fun to race there and it’s a place I’m looking forward to going to with our Toyota Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Xfinity Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at that racetrack and, for it to be a mile in length and for it to be concrete – concrete surfaces that we race on, anyway – are a little bit slick.
“It’s definitely a rollercoaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, I think, because you can get so much out of that place. There are two ways about it – you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days are going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”