Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane at Auto Club Speedway. (Steve Himelstein Photo)

After 19 Seasons, Busch Continues To Surge

Since his inaugural victory in the NASCAR Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway in 2005, Kyle Busch has been a staple in victory lane year-after-year — whether fans liked it or not. 

Kevin Harvick, who is in the midst of his retirement tour, was the only other driver in Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 who was also on track for Busch’s first victory 19 years earlier.

The cars, teams and competition may change, but for 37-year-old Busch, the hunger for victory remains. 

After leading the final 21 laps, Busch visited a Cup Series victory lane for a record 19th consecutive season, breaking a tie with “The King,” Richard Petty for the longest streak of all-time. 

“He and I were tied at 18,” Busch said. “There’s not very many records that you can beat that Richard Petty has, and certainly that was one that I set early on a long, long time ago that I always wanted to achieve and get, so I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to set that bar and would love to continue to keep raising it.”

The win was also significant as it was his first aboard the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. For Busch, it was his fifth and final victory on the two-mile oval at Auto Club Speedway, as the track will be reconfigured in the coming years. 

Behind the curtain, Busch’s five victories came with three of NASCAR’s most prominent teams: Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and RCR.

Busch crosses the finish line at Auto Club Speedway. (Steve Himelstein Photo)

Though Sunday’s victory in Southern California was an added boost for the newly signed RCR driver, after unknowns of how the No. 8 team would gel to start the season. 

With a near win in last week’s 65th Daytona 500 turned sour late in the race, and a strong third-place run in the exhibition event at the L.A. Coliseum showed promise, Busch remained cautiously optimistic. 

GALLERY: NASCAR Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway

While Busch’s confidence has never wavered, did he believe the switch from JGR to RCR would equate to immediate success?

“Truthfully, no. I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern, but also on the flipside of that, I always just kind of looked back and watched some of their results and success that they had last year with Austin (Dillon),” Busch said. “He ran second here last year, and (Tyler) Reddick was super, super fast. They were fast at the Clash before they broke, the 8 car was.

“It’s just been really, really cool, and it’s been a great piece of — we’re making history, right, but a great piece of opportunity to go out there and continue to win races at a new team with RCR, so I can’t say enough about Austin giving me a call, first and foremost, but then Richard (Childress) and Judy (Childress) giving me this opportunity to go out here and race for wins.”

With a victory only two weeks into the season, the No. 8 team now looks to ride the wave of momentum, focusing on improvement and the NASCAR Playoffs. 

“I would say that we need to continue on and pour the gas on the fire right now and go out there and continue to get wins and have fast cars and run up front,” Busch said. “We want to get those playoff points. Playoff points is a big deal for the end of the year. I’ve won a couple championships having a lot of playoff points, and the couple of years I haven’t had a lot of playoff points I haven’t made it very far.

“I know what’s important, so hopefully we can get some more of that.”