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From disappointment to baby, Kyle Busch heads to Kansas on a high

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Kyle Busch walked away from his controversially battered car last weekend at Darlington, his once-promising run in NASCAR’s comeback race ending in frustration after the front tire blew by Brad Keselowski made it turn.

It didn’t take long for Busch’s week to get much better.

Two days later, Busch and his wife, Samantha, welcomed their baby girl into the world after years of dealing with infertility. Lennix Key was born via surrogate, making Brexton, their future 7-year-old son, a big brother, and putting everything else into perspective — as if Busch needs help with that.

“There’s a personal life and a racing life, a personal life and a career, but you want to interpret that,” Busch explained Saturday at Kansas Speedway, “and I try to separate them and separate them as much as possible. .”

His rollercoaster week could definitely end on a high Sunday given his performance in Kansas lately.

What was once a mile and a half of heartbreak, where Busch was just as likely to crash in practice as he was to reach the finish line in one piece, has become one of his favorite spots. He has 11 top-10 finishes and two wins in his last 14 trips to Kansas, and he’s the defending winner of last year’s regular-season race just west of downtown Kansas City. .

Hard to believe Busch crashed once in three consecutive races there.

“Even the last few times before winning there, we had really good races,” Busch said. “We’ve finished in the top five, I think, five races in a row, and we’ve also been in the top 10 a lot, so it’s a place where we’ve really been successful, and now we have two wins there. . We seemed to have gotten a setup or taken ownership of this place.”

In other words, it’s a good place to go after Darlington, where Busch led 18 laps and was near the front most of the day.

Then came the moment Keselowski blew his tire and hit the wall, picking Busch up in the wreckage and damaging his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car so badly that he had to limp it onto pit road. Rather than take it to the garage, Busch parked it and drove away, forcing NASCAR to close pit road until it could be moved.

Busch later said he didn’t think it mattered and couldn’t have walked around the garage anyway. But the move was nonetheless criticized by NASCAR analyst Clint Bowyer and others for its seemingly immature nature.

That finish aside, things on the track have been good for Busch lately. He won a month ago at Bristol dirt to clinch a playoff spot, finished third at Talladega and led the most laps a few weeks ago at Dover.

Things have also gone well on the home front, where Busch is finally learning how to be a father of two.

” It was great. I am truly grateful for all the blessings we have had over the years, struggles and efforts to get to where we are today,” he said. “It’s really meaningful to be able to welcome our baby girl home. Lennix is ​​doing well. Mom is adapting and doing well. Working on this blanket man-to-man with the kids. I’m sure that will change as that she is getting older but enjoying every moment so far.


Kyle Larson is the betting favorite for Sunday’s race at 6-1, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, after winning at Kansas in October en route to a Cup Series championship. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott are 7-1 while Ross Chastain is 8-1 to win for the third time this season.


Hendrick Motorsports will look to go 3 for 3 in the Next Gen car on 1.5 mile tracks this weekend. Alex Bowman won earlier this season in Las Vegas while William Byron triumphed in Atlanta.


Joey Logano, last week’s winner at Darlington, crashed late in Saturday’s practice. The wreck came after Logano’s car leader was ejected and he lost his pit selection for two inspection failures.


Kevin Harvick, who finished fourth at Darlington, hopes to turn his Kansas dominance into his first win since Bristol on Sept. 19, 2020. He’s finished second in two of his last three races at the track and has four straight top-5 finishes. , while his three Kansas wins are tied with Hamlin, Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon for the most in history.


Logano became the 10th driver in the first 12 races to clinch one of 16 playoff spots when he knocked William Byron into the wall on the penultimate lap to win last weekend. That means the pressure is mounting for Harvick, Tyler Reddick and everyone else without a win midway through the regular season.

“I think that’s what NASCAR has put in place with this playoff system – that the wins mean so much and you do the right thing at the end of the day,” Austin Dillon said. “I think everyone’s organizations would be upset if they didn’t.”


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