Kyle Busch ahead of Richmond: Parity keeps it interesting
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Busch is off to a solid start for Richard Childress Racing with a victory, two top-10 finishes and sitting fourth in points through six races.
Now comes Richmond Raceway, where Busch leads all active drivers with six career victories, to start a stretch of three consecutive short-track events.
Ford driver Joey Logano and Toyota driver Tyler Reddick have won the last two races after Chevrolet drivers won the first four, and Busch said that's a good thing.
“Parity is always good, right?” he said Saturday. "Last year we had 19 different winners, every manufacturer, obviously. ... it’s been a while since it’s been that few of races won by the top winner of the series,” he said.
Chase Elliott led all drivers with five wins last season, one year after Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson won 10 and two years after Kevin Harvick won nine.
NASCAR's top series has had five different winners already, with William Byron the only two-time winner.
“You turn on NASCAR races and you don’t really know who’s going to win each week,” Busch said,
That's in contrast to Formula One, for example, where Max Verstappen has won 16 of the last 25 races and his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, has won two others.
But Larson, a fellow Chevrolet driver, isn't as much of a fan of parity.
“I don't care. No,” he said. “Why would I want them to win? I want Chevys to win every race, Hendrick Chevys at that. No. No.”
Kevin Harvick, second among Fords in the point standings and sixth overall, said the onus is on non-Chevrolet teams to catch up.
“They’ve had their stuff together. They've just been faster,” he said.
Drivers said a lack of information about the particulars of NASCAR deciding to rescind points penalties against Hendrick Motorsports drivers for using modified air-deflecting pieces at Phoenix Raceway made it hard to comment.
An appeals panel appeals took away the 100-point penalties levied against drivers Alex Bowman, William Byron and Kyle Larson, but upheld fines and suspensions for Hendrick's four crew chiefs.
“I think there’s obviously some technicalities in there that go along with whatever happened, because I like I say, I don’t know the details,” Harvick said. “It’s really hard not knowing exactly what was said, which would make them like public hearings. That would be way more fun.”
Denny Hamlin called the decision “unprecedented,” adding, “I don’t think we should be surprised about anything. But, you know, it certainly was unprecedented for them to say it was wrong, but we’re going to change the penalty. ... Without a statement, without proof, without transparency, just none of us really know what’s going on.”
Hamlin has a particular interest in the partial about-face. He was fined $50,000 and docked 25 points for admitting on his podcast that he intentionally wrecked Ross Chastain on the last lap at Phoenix.
His appeal hearing is scheduled for this week.
Busch agreed with the unprecedented descriptor, but was dubious.
“Last year, a few guys got busted and they had all their stuff upheld. So, you know, for it to not be completely upheld this time around, I think shows a break in the system,” he said. “I guess it’s a matter of what you think you can get away with or how you build your case, how good your lawyers are.”
QUALIFYING RAINED OUT
With rain all morning, qualifying for Sunday's race was rained out, putting recently reinstalled points leader Alex Bowman on the pole. He'll be followed by Busch, Byron, Chastain and Reddick.
“We’ve kind of been hit and miss here a bit, but hopefully I can apply some of that long-run knowledge that I have or what I’m looking for in the racecar to help us tomorrow,” he said.
Bowman won the spring race at Richmond in 2021.
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