He led 29 laps, which tied for a race-high with his brother Kurt. (And by the way, if points were paid in this one, they both would have gotten the “most laps led” bonus point -- one of the rare instances where the NASCAR rule book allows ties.)
Fewer than 24 hours earlier, Busch had celebrated in Victory Lane after yet another Charlotte win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. It was his fifth truck victory, one that joins six Nationwide Series triumphs at Charlotte.
Busch now boasts 113 NASCAR national series victories, a Jeff Gordon Sprint Cup career away from the magical 200 milestone.
Not a single one of those has come at Charlotte driving a Sprint Cup car. He has come close.
Since 2009, Busch has led the most laps in a Charlotte race four times, compiling a triple-digit laps led figure three times. He has finished second twice, and he’s been in the top five in five of the last six races.
The 0-fer is bizarre, especially considering his success in the other national series. Consider the record he’s nearing in the Nationwide Series. Busch has scored a top-10 finish in 12 consecutive races at Charlotte. The record for consecutive top 10s at a given track is 13, shared by Larry Pearson at Hickory, Kevin Harvick at Phoenix and Mark Martin at Rockingham. Pearson and Martin actually had 15 straight top 10s in 15 starts at their respective tracks, but didn’t start every Hickory and Rockingham race during that span. Same for Harvick, who had 14 straight at Phoenix.
Busch ranks in the top five in all but one Loop Data statistic: green flag passes. And that’s easily explained: When you’re up front, there’s no one to pass.
The most telling statistic for Busch is one that NASCAR launched in 2012: Speed by Quarter. This particular number measures the difference between the average green flag speed of each driver compared to the average green flag speed of the field.
At Charlotte, Busch is almost 1.5 mph better than the average speed of rest of the field. He’s faster in the first half of the race than the second. Here’s Busch’s breakdown by quarter at Charlotte since 2005: +1.5 mph; +1.7 mph; +1.3 mph; +1.4 mph.
Those numbers scream “Sooner than later.” Why not this weekend?
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