Defending champion Kyle Busch eliminated from NASCAR Playoffs
The king is dethroned.
Kyle Busch has retired from the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series title fight. This makes him the first reigning champion in the elimination era who did not emerge from the round of 16 a year after his championship. Officially, he can no longer defend his crown.
Busch remained without a win in 32 of the 36 races. The 35-year-old has won at least one race per season since starting full-time in 2005. This 15 year streak is the sixth ever.
"There were certainly times when I thought," Man, something is wrong with me, "said Busch in a video conference." I'm not doing it right. I do not know what I'm doing. Or the car is not quite right. Or I don't trust what the car is really doing and tell me so, so just drive it harder and then I crashed. I dont know what to think.
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“But it would definitely be nice to get a win and get a win this year. That would be the only consolation prize for the path that has been taken this year. "
Busch finished 30th in the round of 16 on Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. So he finished 11th in the playoff rating. He was off with a solid 49 points.
That performance marked his seventh place as 30th or worse that season. It was his 11th time outside the top 20.
Busch had the lead with 21 laps to go and chose not to drive carefully while the front runners did so, but lost it after three laps to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones. Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott then took control and led the final 18 laps to the checkered flag.
"I just knew that we were trying something - everything," said Busch. “Some of the other guys stayed outside behind me. There were only four or five of them. I thought if there were 10 or 12 of them maybe we might have a better chance of staying ahead.
"Even when restarting, even firing - I tried to warm it all up, ready to go - I had nothing to leave."
The damage the No. 18 Toyota took earlier may have contributed to this.
On lap 49, Busch's left front tire went flat. He believed that Clint Bowyer's No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford severed him during the temporary contact. Regardless of this, Busch ultimately put it in the background at the beginning of the final phase, which later led to Hail Mary's no-pit strategy.
"Obviously we didn't have anything for anyone today," said Busch.
Busch started the race with 21 points below the cutline. Even before the round of 16 began, he predicted that he would not make it into the playoffs anyway.
There are four races left in 2020, starting with the eighth lap kick-off at Kansas Speedway this coming Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC / NBC Sports App, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch would like to make it to Victory Lane - he will certainly try - but is not optimistic about his chances.
"Do we even have a shot to win?" Said Bush. "I don't think we even have a shot."
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