Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Kyle Busch shows no signs of slowing, chases elusive Pocono win

LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch's next try at a weekend sweep should come at his race shop.

It's time for a cleanup — Kyle Busch Motorports is bursting at the seams with NASCAR victory trophies.

Busch's shop in Mooresville, N.C., is undergoing a face-lift, and during the renovation his trophies have nowhere to go. Trophies in honor of Cheez-Its, concrete monsters, even a 200-pound bronzed bear, are littered throughout the building. Workers can't enter the merchandise store, offices, or the upstairs hallway without tripping over trophies.

Maybe somewhere in the mess are the shredded remains of the Gibson Les Paul custom guitar he famously smashed in Nashville.

Busch has an entire case dedicated to trophies from Bristol Motor Speedway alone and every winner's flag from his 38 career Sprint Cup victories are framed on KBM's upstairs hallway.

He has won at every Cup track from Darlington to Daytona, from Bristol to the Brickyard.

Every track but Charlotte Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway.

Busch can knock Pocono off the list today, though he has only four career top-five finishes in 23 starts at the 21/2-mile tri-oval. Busch starts 16th in the No. 18 Toyota, in the same row as big brother Kurt, who won the June Pocono race.

Kyle Busch's best shot at winning at Pocono came last August; he lost the lead on the last lap when the No. 18 ran out of fuel. His average Pocono finish is 19th.

"You've got to have everything fall into place and the stars align and it just hasn't quite happened here yet," Busch said.

Only 31, the 2015 Sprint Cup champion's best days still seem ahead.

With wins this season at Martinsville and Kansas, Busch has won races at 21 of the 23 active Cup tracks. He has multiple victories at 11 of 21 tracks.

His Indy win gave him 34 career wins at Joe Gibbs Racing, topping Tony Stewart for most on the career list. Yet his legacy is far from defined.

"Hopefully it's one that would be hard to beat and it's one that will be remembered," Busch said. "We'll just keep fighting for more wins. We're not done yet."

There is one trophy that won't be found at KBM — the 2015 Cup championship trophy is at his home, surrounded by the all hardware that came out of his leg and foot after his accident last year at Daytona. He broke his right leg and left foot in an Xfinity series crash and missed 11 Cup races.

"I think it's a great sports story," Gibbs said. "It goes back really to the first of last year when he had that wreck, that horrible wreck, because we all know a lot of athletes, they can look at that and say, take a different approach. That Kyle, from the second day he was out of surgery, he has been on a mission to get back, and then to come back the way he did, and I'll tell you, I don't see anything in him but wanting to go to the front."

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