Is Martinsville the answer to the worrisome form of Kyle Busch and RCR?


The last time Kyle Busch pulled into Victory Lane is nearing its annual anniversary. It was the 63rd win for the winningest driver and one of the only three victories for Richard Childress Racing last season. But the introduction of the new short track package has marred Rowdy's dreams this year.

Now that Martinsville is around the corner, speculation is rife. Despite Busch's poor short track performance this year, he holds two wins at the 0.526 mile oval. Richard Childress' grandson Austin Dillon has achieved three top-five finishes. Therefore, Martinsville could be RCR's savior this year.

Kyle Busch is hopeful but cautious about this weekend


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Richard Childress Racing enjoyed its heyday at Martinsville Speedway before the 21st century began. The team recorded seven victories in 189 starts on the paperclip-shaped oval track. Dale Earnhardt scored five of them in dominant fashion, while Ricky Rudd won in 1985. After these legends, only Kevin Harvick won a trophy at the 2011 spring race.

Now that these great drivers have said goodbye to the team, Kyle Busch is showing promise. He has two wins on the short track oval in 2016 and 2017. In the 2016 spring race, he won the NASCAR National Series, leading 352 of 500 laps. In total, he led 1,489 laps on the track, making him the third best among racing drivers.

USA Today via Reuters

But that was before the next-gen era. In his last three races at Martinsville, Kyle Busch finished outside the top 20. According to, he pointed out that tire wear was a reason why: “I would say Martinsville Speedway has become more challenging with traffic and having a good car that doesn't burn the tires. You have to be able to push, move forward and get past your competitors, but you also can’t blow the tires.”

Additionally, the short-distance aerodynamics package had different effects on drivers. Busch complained about Bristol: “The problem starts at the front of the car; the splitter and the way the air is and everything we all do in setting it up so that these things are as dependent on the air as they are. That's a problem. I think they approached it, and that’s a funny way of putting it, backwards.”

Kyle Busch had also observed Chevrolets underperforming Toyotas on short routes, particularly in Phoenix. “We were definitely a step back, all the Chevys were in Phoenix.”

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Still, Busch is working hard to take control of the short track narrative.


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Busch relies on off-track homework to get a good result

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NASCAR was recently criticized for cutting practice time. Citing budget issues, the sanctioning body had angered motorists for not considering the safety factor. But the racing drivers are content with the adjusted rules, as Kyle Busch recently said. When asked what tools the RCR driver uses to improve on the track, Busch explained his homework.

Ahead of this weekend's short track race, Busch said: “The The only tools you can use are your notes, film study, and the past of what you know with certainty makes you good at a particular track. Using the simulator is a tool, but as we found on short routes, it doesn't seem to fully correlate and can lead you in the wrong direction.”


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Richard Childress Racing may be hoping for a win this weekend, but Kyle Busch has many challenges to overcome.