Sprint Cup Driver Review: Kyle Busch

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are now going to start taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

We’ll continue on with the fourth-place driver in the championship, Kyle Busch…

KYLE BUSCH
No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2013 Stats: Fourth Place, Four Wins, 16 Top-5s, 22 Top-10s, 1,227 Laps Led
Average Start: 9.1
Average Finish: 12.7
DNFs: 4

Estrada Says: This past season saw Busch claim four Sprint Cup wins, but the most important thing he can take away from 2013 is that he didn’t fade in the Chase. A pair of runner-up finishes to begin the post-season at Chicagoland and Loudon had him in good position, but another dismal day at Kansas pretty much wiped out his title hopes. However, he claimed four Top-10s and had no finishes worse than 15th in the final six events. Now that he’s put his bad post-season reputation to rest, Busch would appear set to contend next year. With that said, he’ll have to cut down on his bad days – he had seven finishes of 30th or worse.

DiZinno Says: It seemed a more mature Busch in 2013, and a more successful one at that. As Chris outlined above, he had a Chase that didn’t completely go up in smoke for the first time, even if it wasn’t entirely a title-contender. Besides the four wins, his 22 top-10 finishes marked a career high in nine full-time Cup seasons, so the consistency was there. Undoubtedly Matt Kenseth’s switch to JGR made an impact, because Busch nor Denny Hamlin had the pressure of being the veteran leader while still developing themselves. Busch spoke highly of Kenseth’s presence throughout the year and the chemistry is there for an improved 2014. Still, the lingering question remains as to whether Busch can get through a single Chase unscathed.

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X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.