Kyle Busch Motorsports Sputtering Out Of The Gate

Five races into the 2012 Nationwide Series schedule, Kyle Busch is experiencing just how difficult it can be to own a team in the upper tier of NASCAR. A combination of mistakes, bad luck, and slow race cars has added up to an average finish of 17.4 and just two lead lap finishes. His team’s performance has been a far cry from what we are used to seeing out of Busch.

From 2008 through 2011, Busch won a staggering 40 NNS races. On average, he won better than every third time he ran. In the 20 races he ran last season, Busch finished in the top five 17 times. But all this success came driving for the very established Nationwide program at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Coming into this season, Busch took on the task of expanding his already successful Truck Series team to include a full-time Nationwide effort. With backing from Monster Energy, brother Kurt co-driving, and veteran crew chief Mike Beam at the helm, I believe most thought it wouldn’t take long for this team to be a contender. But that just hasn’t been the case.

The most pressing concern for Busch and crew has to be the very clear lack of speed from the cars. The team has only qualified in the top ten once this season,  and while he’s led laps in the last two races, the cars clearly aren’t as good as they need to be. Busch is the type of driver that can elevate the level of his equipment with his talent and ability (if you don’t believe that, compare Busch’s performance in KBM trucks versus the other guys that have driven for him), but a driver can only do so much. KBM builds all of its own chassis, and clearly more development is needed.

Besides the lack of speed, Busch has been the victim of mistakes on pit road. Driving for JGR, Busch’s cars were serviced by the same finely tuned and experienced crew guys that pit JGR Cup cars. But the pit crew at KBM is a standalone team. They are a talented and experienced team in their own right, but they just haven’t performed well. And Kyle Busch won’t wait long for them to figure it out.

We are currently in the midst of a two-week break for the Nationwide Series, and it probably couldn’t have come at a better time for KBM. This team won’t struggle forever, but turning KBM into a championship contender just might take a little longer than expected.

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13 Responses to “Kyle Busch Motorsports Sputtering Out Of The Gate”

  1. Rob Lee says:

    There seemed to be an arrogance roaming around Kyle Busch and KBM when it was announced he would take his team to Nationwide. Along with the media they talked like the owners championship was already going to KBM although the green flag at Daytona hadn’t yet dropped. I presume the attitude in the KBM shop was that Kyle could drive anything to a championship. Well, obviously, it takes a lot more than a talented driver to make a run for the championship. They have issues putting stout Joe Gibbs Racing engines in their cars and making them competitive. It was something they didn’t count on– car performance– because they figured Kyle could handle anything. Now they are playing catch-up to the field.

    Another thing to consider is how much of a dealmaker is Kyle Busch? I don’t know him personally, but he doesn’t seem to have the glad-handing skills to easily secure deals to help his team. Sponsorships (yes, which he managed to get a plum one from Monster Drink, but are they now questioning whether they were taken in by the hype?) are just part of the deals to make. There’s R&D, logistics and most importantly, personnel. Kevin Harvick (when he owned KHI) and Michael Waltrip, two moderately successful owner-drivers, have people skills. Kyle doesn’t seem to have that personality in him to win over skeptical people on the other side of the negotiating table.

    Maybe KBM will win a race or two this year, but so far, I haven’t seen anything that makes them consistent contenders.

  2. Jake says:

    And how would the “insiders” describe the awesome start to the season for Jr.Motorsports and the drivers, Danica, Witt and Junebug?………..just sayin’

  3. T.C. says:

    Hey “Jake,” what are you talking about? What does my post about KBM have to do with JRM? There is absolutely no comparison between JRM, an established team with two rookie drivers, and KBM with Kyle Busch driving. If you are going to comment, try and stay on topic sport… Just sayin.

  4. SB says:

    The situation at KBM highlights the difference between driving a car put on the track by a high dollar Cup team, and having to go the distance on your own. I have to wonder if kyle understood that before he really went independant. He won many races in the lower series the same way Mark Martin won so many Busch series races…driving cars built and fielded by a Cup program.

  5. Tim S. says:

    Martin did win with cars fielded by a Cup program, but he did it in an era when there were still powerhouse stand-alone Busch Series teams. In the 90′s and early 00′s, maybe your Cup team was going to beat (for example) Randy LaJoie or Jeff Green and maybe not.

  6. Eric says:

    @Jake… BURN!!!!!!!!!

  7. fireball doowah says:

    I’m curious why many KB fans consistently bring up JR whenever there is any criticism of Kyle…

  8. harryracer says:

    Hmm….the post on here dont seem to understand facts. Fact: KBM races Triad Engines not Joe Gibbs Engines. Fact: Support comes from TRD not Joe Gibbs. Fact: KBM builds everything except for the engines themselves. Fact: KBM is a one car independent team. So, you Busch haters need to use facts not made up rumors. Kyle doesnt bring up Junior. Junior Nation does.

  9. Paul says:

    While I’ve never been in the driver’s seat or had the chance to see things from the crews stand point, It’s got to be pretty tough to own, drive and be a cheerleader while in the heat of the battle….walk a mile in my shoes before being critical kind of thing.

  10. djones says:

    KyB has been karmalized. His arrogance is doing him in. Of course his truck team did well, the competition is less there. No offense to the teams in that series.

    I’m guessing he didn’t do his homework before expanding into the NW series. If he did, again it’s his arrogance that’s doing him in. He was requested by JGR not to drive in the NW series (in their cars). So what does he do? Starts his own team. I’m glad Monster is getting karmalized with him. Serves them right.

  11. windowlicker says:

    I admit that I thought this team had at least a top 3 finish in owner’s points in the bag based on the success Kyle had in the truck series fielding his own team. I guess the jump from trucks to NWS is much greater than I thought.

  12. fireball doowah says:

    Just so I’m crystal clear, I am NOT a member of the JR Nation. I am simply pointing out the fact the comment that ‘Jake’ made “And how would the “insiders” describe the awesome start to the season for Jr.Motorsports and the drivers, Danica, Witt and Junebug?………..just sayin’”

    I have seen a consistent theme. Whenever Kyle Busch is the topic of conversation, the defense is typically “yeah, but he wins a lot and is just like Dale Earnhardt, and by the way JR sucks…”

  13. Michael in SoCal says:

    It’s Wednesday so I gotta ask, where did ‘Ask the Insiders’ go?

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