Kyle Busch owns Kyle Busch Motorsports and has won all five of the Truck races he’s started in this season.
Kyle Busch knows how to win. Among his 200 NASCAR national touring series wins are 56 wins in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, which is the most all time in that series and includes five wins in his five Truck starts this season.
It should be no surprise then that he expects that same from the drivers he pays to race his trucks as part of Kyle Busch Motorsports, the team he owns.
Problem is that those drivers haven’t been doing that. Chief among them are Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton. Burton has three top-5 finishes so far in the first nine races of the year driving the No. 18 KBM Toyota his best coming at Dover where he finished third; Gilliland has just one top-5 in the first nine races in the in the No. 4 with his best finish, third coming at Kansas.
And their boss isn’t too happy about it. Prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Pocono last weekend, Busch said he gave his drivers a 2 out of 10 grade and added, that they “aint’ done shit.”
Both drivers feel the pressure to win.
“Kyle holds everyone to a high level. And we haven’t won yet,” Burton said. “Todd and I haven’t won a race yet and we both set out to join Kyle Busch Motorsports because we’re here to win races and championship.”
This past week boss man Busch shook things up a bit by doing a crew chief shuffle, a not un-common tactic used by teams to improve performance.
“Obviously there’s kind of been some struggles with result and success and stuff like that with our two full-time teams,” Busch said Friday at Michigan International Speedway where the Cup series will race on Sunday. “I’m never happy with just being mediocre and not being able to go out there and have our guys perform and do a good job. There’s kind of been some tension a little bit between a couple of the teams so just figured we’d switch it up some. We’re going to try one thing here for a couple weeks and then I’ve got something else up my sleeve for after that. Don’t get ahead of yourself too much.”
The goal he said is to have his drivers be able to beat him in KBM equipment.
“I look at guys like Erik Jones, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace – Bubba struggled for the first year, but the second year he was on,” Busch said. “We went to Kentucky and Bubba and myself checked out. Erik Jones and myself last year here at Michigan, him and I ran together and third-place was eight or nine seconds behind us.
“There is opportunity there for these guys, if they’re going to be good and they’re going to be successful and they’re going to have an opportunity to move up the ladder, they need to be able to show it,” he added. Byron won seven times, Jones won five times, Christopher Bell won five or six times – the guys that are moving up and doing what they’re supposed to be doing are successful and they can have success and have shown success in Xfinity and Cup, we’ll see. Jones is still working on it I guess and Christopher is not quite there yet. Noah (Gragson) for instance, he won one race one year and won one race another year and we’re now seeing where he’s at in the Xfinity Series with the results that he’s kind of getting.”
“If you win and you win a lot in KBM trucks, then you’re going to be a better driver. If you can’t get it done in a KBM truck, might as well go home.”
Both drivers did nothing to ease their bosses mind Friday night. Burton didn’t lead a lap at Texas, never really contended for the win, and clawed his way to a fifth-place finish. The news was worse for Gilliland. Gilliland led more laps at Texas Friday then he has all season, 31, but crashed out on lap 68; he was credited with a 27th place finish.
And as if to add insult to injury, veteran driver and former Truck series champion Greg Biffle raced the No. 51 truck for KBM and won. It was his first win in the series since 2004.
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