LAS VEGAS - Kyle Busch hit his first speedbump of the season yesterday, when he wrecked two cars and scraped the wall with another.
Busch is the hottest driver in NASCAR heading into today's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the locals have made him a 4-1 favorite to win on his hometown track. The Sprint Cup Series points leader will start from the pole in his new
It's not expected to slow Busch, who hasn't finished lower than fourth this season in six races spanning three series entering yesterday's Nationwide Series race. A blown right front tire sent him crashing into the wall in that race, ending his impressive run.
But an otherwise torrid start to the season has the industry abuzz, with many respected veterans marveling at the 22-year-old's talent.
"Right now, he is the wheel man of the series," said Mark Martin, who qualified third, and won yesterday's Sam's Town 300. "When you watch Jeff Gordon drive, Jeff Gordon goes really fast. But you don't see a whole lot there other than going fast. You watch Kyle Busch drive and not only is he going fast, he's taking your breath, too."
Busch certainly did that in the Daytona 500, dominating the early parts of the race before mounting a frantic final charge that was so dizzying, teammate Tony Stewart complained he had motion sickness from watching Busch slice through the field.
He came up short, finishing fourth, then added another fourth-place finish in last Monday's rain-postponed event in California. It was good enough to push him into the points lead for the first time in his career, but Busch wants a win. His only victory this season came in last week's Truck Series race.
A win in Vegas - where Busch has a second-, third-, and ninth-place finish in four starts - would make history: No driver has won from the pole since Cup racing began here in 1998.
Except for his mishaps yesterday - in addition to scraping the wall in his Cup car and wrecking out of the Sam's Town 300, he also wrecked his primary Nationwide ride on his second qualifying lap - everything Busch has done so far this season has been pretty special.
In addition to his spot atop the Cup standings, Busch is leading the Truck Series points and headed into yesterday's Nationwide race trailing only Stewart in the standings. And when he knocked Carl Edwards off the pole, last week's race winner could only shrug.
"I couldn't run the lap he ran if I tried 100 times," Edwards said. "He's just a great driver. It's pretty wild to see the success he's had. He's doing very well."
In just his fourth full season of Cup racing, Busch is drawing comparisons to the late Tim Richmond because of his aggressive, wide-open style and impressive car control.
Said Busch's older brother, Kurt, the 2004 series champion: "I like his tenacity, his aggressiveness, his belief of, 'Hey man, I'm just here to win. I don't care about anything else.' "