HOMESTEAD, Fla – For whatever reason, Kyle Busch has struggled in qualifying this season. Last weekend at the ISM Raceway, Busch put his No. 18 Toyota on the pole for the first time in 35 tries this year.
So, you can forgive him for being happy that NASCAR elected to replace qualifying on Saturday with a practice session for the Monster energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers instead.
See, both Cup practice sessions were rained out on Friday. With a new racing package in 2019 mixed with a new tire compound brought to the Homestead-Miami Speedway by Goodyear, NASCAR decided to give the teams practice instead of qualifying.
It was honestly the best call.
For Busch, he will now start fourth in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). That’s likely better than he would have started if we did qualify.
Plus, it helps Busch in the fact that he said he and Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole have had a difficult time rolling off the truck during most race weekend. He said that it took typically all the allotted on track practice time for them to get their cars dialed in. If we qualified on Saturday and had no practice time, then JGR could be set up for a long day on Sunday in trying to get their cars right.
Also, Busch says that part of the reason for his decline in qualifying stats has been the new weekend schedules. This year, NASCAR has made most tracks have two practice sessions on Friday and only qualify on Saturday before the race on Sunday. That schedule has thrown Busch off.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Busch said on if the new format has affected him. “Because it’s, I don’t — I don’t necessarily like it. I liked it the way it was. I liked to be able to show up on Friday, get a little qualifying practice in, go out there, focus on a good qualifying lap, qualify. And then focus on your race on Saturday, get all the stuff you need to do in race trim the day before a race.
“And now you’re practicing and doing everything two days before the race is and it’s just different. But everybody’s under the same thing, so it’s just a matter of how you put it all together and do your weekend.”
Now, it’s like it used to be. The starting lineup is set. Busch, starts fourth. Saturday’s 50 minute session is all about getting your car dialed in for Sunday’s season finale.