Rain puts Kyle Busch behind the 8-ball. But there’s a reason why he loves the Coke 600
Kyle Busch has won the Coca-Cola 600 before and finished second in last year’s historically long race — and he even spent his Memorial Day Sundays as a kid rubbing his eyes awake so he could see all 400 laps of North Carolina’s biggest race of the year.
And yet, all that considered, he might enter Sunday evening a bit blind.
The two-time Cup Series champion and the driver with the most NASCAR-sanctioned wins enters Charlotte Motor Speedway with a new race team in Richard Childress Racing after his public split with Joe Gibbs Racing in September. And even though the team has proven itself on intermediate tracks like Charlotte all season, Busch has never run on Charlotte’s oval with his new team.
What’s worse: the threat of rain Saturday might prevent him and his team from getting some much-needed practice.
“Certainly that could kind of be a little bit of (a disadvantage),” Busch told reporters in the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center.
He added that he and his team, in the event of rain canceling Cup practice and qualifying, would just have to rely on the information his Chevrolet teammate Kyle Larson gathered while running a tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway in March.
The good news?
Busch has had recent success at the NASCAR crown jewel race. That success is to the tune of six Top 10s (including the win in 2018) in the past six Coke 600s.
It helps that he loves the race, too.
“I love this race,” Busch said. “I remember watching this race as a kid when I was growing up. I may or may not have fallen asleep. It’s just really long. But it’s got the history of 600 miles and man vs. machine and all that sort of stuff. So equipment in this day and age is a lot different than the equipment used to be.”
He added: “There’s been a couple times here where you get to mile marker 500 and you’re like, ‘Damn, there’s still 100 more miles to go.’ It’ll wear on you, for sure, if you’re not made for it or ready for it. But this place is really rough over the years, and has gotten a lot of character back into it since the repave in 2006. It’s pretty rough and bumpy, so the 600 miles around here will definitely wear on you.”
There’s a 97% chance of rain on Saturday and an 85% chance on Sunday, per local forecasts.
In addition to missing Cup qualifying Saturday, Busch might also miss the Xfinity Series race, which he is also running in this weekend. The Xfinity Series race’s start time got pushed up an hour, to 12 p.m. Saturday, due to the threat of inclement weather.
“The mile-and-a-half stuff, I feel like we’re really close,” Busch said of his RCR No. 8 team. “We’re right there. Kansas was a really good look for us. You know I felt like we had a good Top 5, Top 3 speed. And anything can happen at the end of these races, and you can contend for a win.”