By Chase McCabe
ATLANTA - Kyle Busch won his 102nd and what he says will be his final Xfinity Series start on Saturday in the Credit Karma Money 250 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was his 5th victory in the series this season after he led 97 of the 164 laps. NASCAR allows cup drivers to run a maximum of 5 races in each of the lower tiered series each season.
Busch has been steadfast in saying that he would not race in the Xfinity Series now that he has passed the 100 win mark and wanted to fulfill all of his sponsorship commitments. However, Busch's tone continues to be that he is tired of being criticized for running in the development series when he doesn't have to.
I asked Kyle if he thought NASCAR should or would re-look at the rules to allow Cup drivers to run in Xfinity/Trucks as much as they'd like.
"I don't know... I could go a lot of different ways right now, that's a loaded question. I guess what I'll say is I know it's Atlanta and I know it's 86 degrees outside and it's hot as hell, but those grandstands didn't look too damn good today. So... sometimes names sell and if you ain't got names then you ain't selling."
In my opinion, Busch is not wrong in feeling the way he does. Say what you want, but Kyle has never been anything but honest. While I don't always agree with what he says or does, I do on this. He should be allowed to race. He brought up racing against cup regulars when he was coming up before any of these rules and how beneficial that was to him.
"Somewhere between 2004 and 2013-14-15, somewhere in there you're running against somewhere between 8-12-16 cup guys, you know? People want to discredit all the wins all they want, but back in that day, hell back in 2004 I was 18 years old racing against all of them and beating them. So it was pretty fun racing against all of them."
Having big names like Mark Martin or Dale Earnhardt Jr. were also big draws for tracks. I grew up watching Trucks and Xfinity at the Nashville Fairgrounds and Nashville Super Speedway and having the big names come to town was the reason many people wanted to go out to the race. Nothing against guys like Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric etc. but they're not the big time yet. You still need the Cup names for the draw and to better prepare these young guys for what is next. To me, NASCAR needs to re-consider this.
Here's another thing... if you're someone that's worried about Kyle Busch winning all of the races then figure out a way to beat Kyle Busch! It's that simple.
The topic of the Atlanta re-profiling also came up and once again Busch didn't hold back.
"I sure am glad to win the final Xfinity Series race on the real Atlanta race track. Cuz the next one's just going to be a show piece and it's going to be s***."
I asked a few others on pit road their thoughts after the race. Jeb Burton was quick to say:
"Not a fan of that, but it's not up to me, so it is what it is."
And car owner Richard Childress, who has seen a lot of success on the current configuration said:
"Well I hope they don't mess it up, it's such a good race track to race on. Even if they just repaved it like it is it would be a great race (track) for the next gen car.s coming"
You can tell that many in the sport are apprehensive on it and several other things. The thing that bothers me is that the drivers especially should be consulted on more of these things, but they're not. I have praised NASCAR in the last few years for trying new things, but I believe they need to make sure the drivers have their say too. Are they going to agree on everything? No, of course not, but the drivers are the one's putting on the show... they should be consulted.
There has to be a better way to keep the fans coming to the track and to listen to the drivers.