At the end of 2011 Kyle Busch had to sit out a race for on track activity in a different series. Sitting out the last race of the season relegated him to a 12th place finish in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Last year even though he only ran 35 of the 36 races, he had the second best season of his career.
This year Kyle’s main goal was to keep his nose clean, finish races and continue leading laps like the year before. Kyle and the M&M’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota did just that. Kyle led 1436 laps. Unlike the year before though where he led 1455 laps, he only won one race instead of four. For comparison purposes, Brad Keselowski led only 735 laps on the way to his championship. He had 13 top five finishes and twenty to ten finishes. Those stats alone are enviable by just about any driver in the series. The only exception is he had a lot of races where misfortune bit him and his team.
His season started out great with a win in the Bud Shootout, the exhibition race to start the season. He then won the spring race at Richmond. Then he had engine failures at the first races at Pocono and Michigan. He then crashed at the second Pocono race. Along the way he was bit by pit strategy and fuel mileage calls resulting in races with results that do not match how he actually ran during the race.
Kyle Busch had six finishes of 30th or worse, add in another four 25th or worse and that pretty much sums up why he did not make the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season.
There is promise for next season; in the Chase races Kyle had 6 top five finishes including the last four races. Those finishes guaranteed that he would finish the season in 13th place. He was a whopping 82 points from fourteenth place finisher Ryan Newman.
Kyle said after the last race of the season. “I think I’ve said it the last five weeks right — that’s our year — that’s our year again tonight. Amazing race car. These guys work so hard all year long and it’s just a shame that we’re not able to come out here and be able to put it to victory lane like we should and like we know how to do. And, we executed and showed all day long we could. This M&M’s Toyota was awesome. Can’t say enough about them. Just all of our guys that work so hard like I said.”
Look for Kyle Busch and the M&M’s Toyota to be in victory lane and the Chase next year.