The 2020 struggles for reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch continued Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Busch closed out the inaugural Go Bowling 235 with his fifth finish outside the top 30 this season, placing 37th on the final scorecard. He only had two races go that way in 2019.
On top of that, the Daytona Road Course marked Busch’s fourth event this season in which he did not make it to the checkered flag. There were also only two races like that in all of 2019.
RELATED: Official results
Sunday’s series of unfortunate events started on Lap 2 of 65. Busch took the lead but then dragged the tires on his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the front chicane. He flat-spotted his left-front tire, forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 4.
Busch was 27th at the end of Stage 1 on Lap 15 and then up to 19th when Stage 2 ended on Lap 30.
Things were fine until Busch pitted on Lap 48 from the second-place position with a completely different issue that needed to be diagnosed. The No. 18 crew took a longer stop than normal, furiously wrenching on Busch’s Toyota. Instead of sending the two-time champ back out on the track, he was told to steer his car to the garage with a mechanical issue.
With less than 20 laps remaining and the laps continuing to tick off, however, JGR didn’t have much time to spare. Busch ultimately returned to the race six laps down … only to exit early regardless.
On Lap 60, both of Busch’s rear tires went down, sending the Camry spinning. That incident officially ended his day.
It was in Busch’s best interest to finish out the event for points purposes. He has yet to win a race this season and therefore is not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Busch does have a comfortable 100-point cushion above the cutline in 13th, but — again — not guaranteed a berth.
Just three regular-season races remain, including a return trip to Daytona for the finale on its high-speed oval that tends to be unpredictable. That’ll be more familiar than the road course — even though Busch had the most recent experience among drivers on the layout stemming from the Rolex 24 earlier this year.
Before that last-ditch effort, Dover International Speedway will host a doubleheader next weekend (Saturday and Sunday both at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Busch has three wins in 30 career starts at the “Monster Mile” — most recently in 2017. He came in sixth and 10th there last year.