Kyle Busch has a chance to win five straight spring races at Richmond International Raceway tonight, but while he’s clearly has found the rhythm at RIR, he also credits fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin as a key reason for he and his team’s success there. Hamlin is out of action tonight as he continues to heal up after sustaining a fractured vertebrae in a crash earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway.
“I think a lot of it comes from Denny, being that it’s his home track,” said Busch. “I’ve been good there in Hendrick and JGR cars. But Denny and I really feed off each other an awful lot in Richmond. We use each other a ton there just to be sure we can beat the rest of the competition, of course.
“We do like similar setups there, unlike other mile-and-a-half tracks or two-mile tracks where we don’t run very similar setups. Richmond is one of those places where we both know what it takes to get around and we’re both similar to one another in that we both run well.”
Gibbs drivers have won six of the last 10 races overall at RIR (Busch with the aforementioned four wins, and Hamlin with two from the fall Richmond races in 2009 and 2010). But it would appear that the field has to go through Busch in particular this evening in the Toyota Owners 400. The Rowdy One boasts an average finish of 5.4 in 16 career Cup starts there; that’s the best amongst all active drivers. Also, in those 16 starts at RIR, he’s earned 12 Top-5 finishes.
The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.
“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.
“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”
Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.
He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.
The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.
“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.
“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”
Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.
A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.