Bristol could cool off Kyle’s run

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Kyle Busch is currently on one of the more incredible runs you’ll ever see in NASCAR. After winning the 2015 Sprint Cup championship, the Las Vegas native has finished in the top-five in six of the first seven races of 2016, including winning the last two at the vastly different layouts at Martinsville and Texas. Dating back to last season, he’s finished fifth or better in 10 of his last 11 starts.

Busch has been on such a roll lately his run has spilled over into the lower level NASCAR series. He completed a weekend sweep at Martinsville two weeks ago by also winning in the Craftsman Truck Series and last week at Texas he won the Xfinity Series race Friday night before winning Saturday’s Cup race. That’s four straight NASCAR races Busch won and he heads into Sunday’s race at Bristol tied for the most wins among active drivers with five.

The only good news for the rest of the field this week is that the last of Busch’s five Bristol wins came in 2011, a span of eight races there he hasn’t won. The bad news for the rest of the field is they’ve seen this before out of Busch. Last July, Busch won three straight races on the schedule, which completed a run of him winning four of five races. Those wins came on a road course at Sonoma, a 1.5-mile track at Kentucky, a 1-mile flat track at New Hampshire and the 2.5-mile Brickyard.

That, my friends, is one diversified driver and it’s part of the reason why he’s the favorite to win Sunday’s Food City 500 on the high-banked half-mile Bristol bullring.

The one thing that stands out about past winners at Bristol is the wins come in bunches, which could give a few drivers an edge this week. When Busch won his five Bristol races, four of them came in a five race stretch over three seasons. When his brother Kurt Busch won his five races, four of the five came over a five race stretch, including three straight (2003-04). Prior to them, it was Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace with similar stretches and before them it was Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip dominating.

The top candidates to win outside of the Busch brothers now is Joey Logano, who has won two of the past three Bristol races, Matt Kenseth, who has won two of the last five and Brad Keselowski, who won two straight (2011-12).

Perhaps the oddest fact about recent past Bristol history is that Chevrolet has won only twice in the past 15 races and none in the last five. Jimmie Johnson grabbed his only career win there in 2010. The other Chevy heavyweight, Kevin Harvick, notched his only win there in 2005.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].

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