Kyle Busch at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (HHP/Jacy Norgaard)

Busch On Daytona Fuel Saving: ‘I Felt Disgraceful’

Fuel saving was a hot topic of conversation in the days following Monday’s 66th Daytona 500.

With increased fuel strategy pushed by teams at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway, racing at nearly half-throttle was apparent during portions of the 500-mile race.

Earlier this week, Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, spoke about the strategy on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“Ultimately, we want to drop the green flag on the race and they’re racing as hard as they can until they drop the checkered flag,” Sawyer said. “There’s some strategy in between there, and we will definitely take a much deeper drive into this particular situation and the strategy that goes into it.”

The disruption of flow from a competition aspect brought plenty of critics with passing becoming a rarity at times. 

Perhaps the most outspoken was two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch.

To be blunt, the Richard Childress Racing driver stated – “I believe it’s a problem.” 

“I felt disgraceful, myself, being a race car driver – wanting to go fast, lead laps and win the Daytona 500, and that was our strategy that we had to employ at the start of the race because everybody was doing it,” Busch said.

“When you’re running wide open and you’re in the draft, your pace is probably a 46.30 (seconds). We were running 49.80’s.. almost 50-second lap times.

Kyle Busch (8) leads a pack of cars at Daytona. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

“It was pathetic.. I was like, ‘How slow are we going to go?’”

Busch pointed to the fans and how the lack of racing affects them in a negative way. 

“I felt bad for the fans,” Busch admitted. “This is not good for them. It’s not what I want to be doing. But when you kind of get in that situation, I don’t know what you do.” 

From a different point of view, two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano feels the equality of race cars across the Cup Series garage is a large reason the lack of passing arose. 

“Well, this is kind of the next step of speedway racing as the field is closer and closer it’s harder and harder to pass,” Logano said. “How do you cycle yourself ahead of the pack?

“Well, it’s pretty obvious what the answer was last week. It was where only a couple of teams were doing it, but now it’s all of the teams doing it.”

When it comes to a solution, Logano feels there’s not an easy answer. 

“I don’t know if there is a fix besides doing something to eliminate stage cautions or something like that, like we tried at the road courses, or just adding more stages, which I don’t know if I really want that,” Logano said.

On a positive side, the Team Penske driver feels the ultra-save strategy on superspeedways could perhaps find a proper place within the Cup Series. 

“It’s interesting. It’s a different way of racing. It’s still a race,” Logano said.  “It’s still part of the race, it’s just a different way of doing it and it’s up to everybody in this room to really educate the fans on what this next step is and why we’re doing it.

Joey Logano. (HHP/Jacy Norgaard)

“As much as we want to say we want to run 100 percent all the time, it’s all well and good, but there’s also just a strategy race that sometimes is pretty interesting.”

Corey LaJoie offered his thoughts, stating it’s a double-edged sword between obeying team orders and remaining patient as a competitor. 

“Do I like trying to work to get the lead and then get yelled at by our crew chief because you are burning too much fuel? No,” LaJoie said. “ But what do I do? Just let six or seven guys go by me so I can ride at 60 percent? No.  So, I don’t love that its how its kind of worked.”

For Daytona 500 winner William Byron, he’s more focused on looking past the issue and staying the course toward racking up victories — regardless of how it looks. 

“I don’t know what the adjustment is that needs to be made,” Byron admitted. “It’s not the most fun thing to do, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the race. I feel like we were pretty smart about it. 

“If you look at our average running position last week, it wasn’t what people would think. But we would always cycle forward; have a chance to race it out for the stage win and have a chance at the end. 

“I’m just going to do whatever the rules tell me to do.”

With another superspeedway-style track ahead on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the intensive fuel strategy may be on hand for the series once again as opinions and questions continue to loom large.