NASCAR Barometer: Three Consecutive Wins for Busch

NASCAR Barometer: Three Consecutive Wins for Busch

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

Kyle Busch shot from the back of the field to the front to win his third consecutive race from nine starts in 2018. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started Saturday night's Toyota Owner's 400 in 32nd position but made quick work of the field as he climbed into the top 10. He battled at the front of the field for the rest of the night using a quick car with no mistakes to come out on top for the third week in a row.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series completely changes gears this week after two weeks of short-track racing. Talladega Superspeedway and its pack-style racing is a stark contrast to the past two weeks at Bristol and Richmond. The unpredictable nature of racing at the circuit makes fantasy owner's jobs more difficult, but past results still can be an indicator of future success.

UPGRADE

Kyle Busch – Busch won Saturday night's race from the farthest back he has ever started after rolling off the line in 32nd position to capture his third consecutive win. He quickly made his way up to the top 10 after the start and then spent the rest of the night working to stay out front holding off Martin Truex Jr. and teammate Denny Hamlin. Late restarts tested his crew and machine, but he held it together. This win firmly gives him the helm of domination after Kevin Harvick opened the season on top. Busch has one Talladega win from his 25 career starts

Kyle Busch shot from the back of the field to the front to win his third consecutive race from nine starts in 2018. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started Saturday night's Toyota Owner's 400 in 32nd position but made quick work of the field as he climbed into the top 10. He battled at the front of the field for the rest of the night using a quick car with no mistakes to come out on top for the third week in a row.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series completely changes gears this week after two weeks of short-track racing. Talladega Superspeedway and its pack-style racing is a stark contrast to the past two weeks at Bristol and Richmond. The unpredictable nature of racing at the circuit makes fantasy owner's jobs more difficult, but past results still can be an indicator of future success.

UPGRADE

Kyle Busch – Busch won Saturday night's race from the farthest back he has ever started after rolling off the line in 32nd position to capture his third consecutive win. He quickly made his way up to the top 10 after the start and then spent the rest of the night working to stay out front holding off Martin Truex Jr. and teammate Denny Hamlin. Late restarts tested his crew and machine, but he held it together. This win firmly gives him the helm of domination after Kevin Harvick opened the season on top. Busch has one Talladega win from his 25 career starts there and also picked up a third-place finish in the spring race last year.

Joey Logano – Logano wrested the lead from Truex and went on to win the opening stage of Sunday's race ahead of Aric Almirola. He had to fight his way back into the lead but was able to win the second stage of Saturday's race as well. He lost track position in the final stage due to poor handling but was able to get on top of the adjustments and work his way back into a top-five finishing position. He has been quietly getting faster as this season progresses, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him visit Victory Lane in the near term. Logano has two Talladega wins, but his best results at the track have tended to come in the fall visits.

Kurt Busch – Busch found himself out front for much of Saturday's race and narrowly missed winning the second stage when Logano passed him within 10 laps of that finish. While he lost his early advantage later in the race, he still was able to remain in contention and ultimately finished 11th. It wasn't a top-10, but his pace earlier in the night will give him something to build on in races to come. Busch is one of the best drivers in the draft, and he should be optimistic about his chances this week at Talladega. While he hasn't won at the track, he does have 18 top-10 finishes from 34 career starts along with an average finish of 15.9.

Clint Bowyer – Making a return to Victory Lane gave Bowyer the boost he needed to be competitive on a more regular basis with his No. 14 team. He was quick throughout the weekend in Richmond and was a factor at the front of the field throughout the entire race distance. He survived the late race restarts and came away with another confidence-boosting top-10 finish to continue his run of good finishes. Bowyer has two Talladega wins on his record and has finished in the top 10 in half of his 24 starts at the circuit. He and that speedway get along just fine, and his current pace suggests he should be a factor again this week.

Jimmie Johnson – As quickly as Johnson moved into the upgrade column after his Bristol performance, he could have just as quickly moved right back into the downgrade section. Johnson struggled with handling early in Saturday's race and spent much of the night a lap down and outside of the top 15. Late restarts allowed the team to make significant moves forward, and he walked away with another top-10 finish. That's no small feat considering how unsatisfactory the team was to open the season and how long it took them to find the pace Saturday. Johnson has two Talladega wins and 12 top-10s from 32 starts. He finished eighth there last spring and could again look forward to taking advantage of the track's unpredictability this week.

DOWNGRADE

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex captured pole for Saturday's Richmond race but lost the lead relatively early in the first stage as he worked to improve his car's handling. He found the right setup as he worked his way back out front, but late mistakes cost him what could have been a victory. He was contention to win until two poor pit stops dropped him well back from the lead with no chance to recover. The mistakes came at the worst possible time and possibly cost what should have been a top finish. Truex has dropped out of the last three Talladega races and has two top-five finishes from 26 career starts. His average finish at the track is 21.1 and he'll want to overcome Saturday's frustration.

Alex Bowman – After several consecutive weeks of improvement, Bowman was on the back foot early Saturday night in Richmond. The driver just couldn't get a good handle on his machine and languished at the back all night. That lack of pace meant he was often in the way of the leaders, and his rear bumper showed the damage from getting bumped as they filed past. He ended the night just inside the top 20 in 18th place but most likely expected more given his recent trend of finishes. In five Talladega starts, Bowman's average finish is 31.2 with three DNFs, but the best gauge of his potential might be February's Daytona 500 where he finished 17th.

Ryan Blaney – Blaney ran much of Saturday's race in the middle of the pack, and that tends to be where trouble occurs. That was the case Saturday night when he and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact trying to pass a slower machine. It would have been a disappointing night for the No. 12 team even without the contact, though. The Penske Racing driver was off the pace from the start and wasn't finding the adjustments that would push his car farther up the running order. The team is in a rough patch at the moment, which will make a visit to Talladega even more difficult. Blaney has two top-10s and one top-five there in seven career starts. He finished 39th and 18th last year.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Stenhouse had an awful night in Richmond. He languished deep in the running order for much of the distance and had multiple instances of contact with other cars as well as the outside wall. After his stellar afternoon in Bristol another top run should have been in the cards at Richmond, but his trouble throughout the race meant he was only able to finish 23rd. Consistency remains an issue with this team, as evidenced by his last two results. The good news is that Stenhouse now heads to another of his best tracks. He won last year's spring race from pole and continues to be one of the best options for fantasy rosters at restrictor-plate circuits.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

William Byron – Byron had a fantastic night at Richmond. The No. 24 driver was a constant fixture in the top 10 and managed to weather the battle all the way to the finish. He was shuffled back slightly in the final restarts but still came away with a 12th-place finish. The team is improving and starting to put themselves in contention for top results. Continuing to do so will pay off, too. He crashed out of the Xfinity series race at Talladega last year and finished 23rd at Daytona earlier this season. He doesn't have a lot of experience in the draft but is quickly learning how to get toward the front in the Cup series. Fantasy players may want to take a gamble on him.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NASCAR Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NASCAR fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
F1 and NASCAR DFS: PrizePicks selections for the Chinese Grand Prix and GEICO 500
F1 and NASCAR DFS: PrizePicks selections for the Chinese Grand Prix and GEICO 500
NASCAR DFS: GEICO 500
NASCAR DFS: GEICO 500
GEICO 500 Preview: Superspeedway Battle
GEICO 500 Preview: Superspeedway Battle
NASCAR Barometer: Chase Elliott Breaks Winless Streak
NASCAR Barometer: Chase Elliott Breaks Winless Streak