NASCAR America MotorMouths, Dale Jr. Download back for another season Dr. Diandra: Auto Club Speedway first test of Busch-RCR partnership NASCAR schedule for Auto Club Speedway Brad Daugherty: Daytona 500 win ‘might be the pinnacle’ NASCAR 75: Looking back on iconic moments in NASCAR’s history for 75th anniversary
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Since then Kyle Bush announced his move to Richard Childress Racing, experts are wondering if the Busch-RCR partnership is a step down for the two-time Cup Series champion. I predicted that this move would benefit Bush And RKR.
But the truth is in the data.
The first two events of the season seem promising. Busch moved up from the spin to finish third in the Clash at the Coliseum. His new teammate Austin Dillon took second place. But the Clash is an exhibition race on a track unlike any prize race.
MORE: Fontana race raises questions about NASCAR’s future in Southern California
Busch’s 18th run in the Daytona 500 ended in disappointment when a final lap crash left him in 19th place. Before the crash, Busch was racing well, both individually and as a team with Dillon.
But the Daytona 500 rarely predicts driver success for the rest of the season.
- The high accident rate of the Daytona 500 prevents some of the best drivers from finishing well or not at all.
- After winning the Daytona 500 in his rookie year, Austin Sindrik held first place in the ranking for two weeks. By the fifth race, Sindrik had dropped to adolescence and remained there throughout the regular season.
- Ross Chastain started his breakout 2022 season finishing 40th.th out of 40 cars in the Daytona 500. He finished the season in second place.
The big ovals, not related to super speed racing, have all but disappeared from the NASCAR calendar. The Auto Club, Michigan, and Pocono reduced the number of races from two to one per season. Drivers and fans are hoping for a return to the Indianapolis Oval, but that won’t happen this year.
Sunday marks 33rd – and last – a race at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway. After the checkered flag is flown, the course can be pinched and folded into a half-mile oval. Or not.
The loss of Auto Club Speedway is a minus for Bush because he handles those tracks well. But one race remaining provides ideal conditions for assessing the progress of the Busch-RCR partnership.
Bush at the Speedway Auto Club
Take a look at Bush’s record of 23 races.
Wins: Bush has the most wins at Auto Club Speedway among regular active drivers, with four. Jimmie Johnson holds the record with six wins while Kyle LarsonTwo wins put him in second place among active full-time drivers.
Chance to win: Bush reports a 17.4% win rate, second highest among current full-time drivers. Larson is in first place with a win rate of 25.0%, but this is based on only eight starts.
Average finish: Bush’s average finishing position of 9.8 beats any rider who will be racing this Sunday. Jimmie Johnson has an average finishing position of 7.6, but Johnson’s 2023 part-time schedule does not include a track in California.
Bush also boasts the best top 10 hit rate (69.6%) and the second best top 5 hit rate (47.8%). Larson and Johnson have 50.0% of the top five, so Bush isn’t far behind.
And Busch isn’t just good at Auto Club Speedway: His 60 career wins include four Fontana wins, two Indy race wins and four Pocono trophies.
Evaluation of the Busch-RCR partnership
Auto Club Speedway is the perfect place to evaluate the Busch-RCR partnership because Busch has historically been very good there, while RCR has had problems. RCR has only won one race at Auto Club Speedway in 2011 with Kevin Harvick Behind the wheel. Dillon’s average of 13.5 is driven by second place last year and seven 10th or worse finishes.
I will listen to Bush’s comments during and after Saturday morning practice, especially if the car is not as fast as Bush expects. I’m particularly interested in the nature of the skirmish between Bush and crew chief Randall Burnett.
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The fact that the No. 8 team is qualifying is a good indicator. Bush has an average starting position of 10.2, with 60.9% of his qualifying runs placing him in the top 10. Being outside the top 10 has a negative impact on the partnership and the race. Four of the last five winners made it into the top four. Among those five races, two of three races ever won from pole at Auto Club Speedway: Larson in 2017 and Martin Truex Jr. in 2018.
Bad qualification does not guarantee a bad race. Last year — the only race at Auto Club Speedway in a Next Gen car — Larson qualified 13th, was sent to the end after making unauthorized adjustments, and won the race.
Finally, the finish of the race itself. Accidents aside (one race that Busch did not finish at Auto Club Speedway was caused by engine trouble), finishing outside the top 10 is negative for the Busch-RCR partnership.
The Auto Club is not definitive on whether the Busch-RCR partnership was a good move for Busch. This is one piece of data among 36 this season.
Kevin Harvick His 750th straight Cup start is slated for Sunday’s 400 mile race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Continuing what he says will be his last full season in the Cup, Harvick grew up about 150 miles from Fontana in Bakersfield, California. He has a remarkable track record in his “house”…