Kyle Busch trails Clint Bowyer at Martinsville Speedway
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Kyle Busch snags points lead, but run of second-place finishes stings

Kyle Busch enters NASCAR’s first off weekend as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ new points leader. But having the mantle was faintly a silver lining after a hard-fought second place at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch settled for the runner-up spot for the third time in the past four races, taking the checkered flag a little more than a second behind STP 500 winner Clint Bowyer.

“We keep executing, we keep doing a good job, but it’s not good enough,” Busch said. “It’s very frustrating. I’m about half my career total of wins with second-place finishes so that’s pretty discouraging. Guess for as often as I win, I lose more.”

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Busch’s career stats do have a compelling similarity: His 43 victories in NASCAR’s top division are matched by his 43 runner-up finishes.

With Stewart-Haas Racing cornering the market with four wins in six events, the victory column has been a tough category to scratch in 2018. The consolation, Busch says, is that his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team has consistently remained in the hunt.

“I mean, we take solace, sure, but you know, ultimately we’re here to win each and every week,” Busch said. “I know everybody is, but we’ve been that close each and every week, so we’re right there, we’re knocking on the door. We’re trying. I wouldn’t say it’s one particular thing that we can pinpoint, we’ve just been beat by somebody kind of hitting it a little bit more than we have.

“We’ve been the closest thing to everybody each and every week. We’re getting beat by different guys. The SHR team is certainly probably one of the better teams right now, but we’re right there knocking at their heels.”