RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Busch has gotten off to a solid start for Richard Childress Racing with a win, two top 10 finishes and fourth place in points from six races.
Now comes Richmond Raceway, where Busch leads all active drivers with six career wins to start a stretch of three consecutive short track events.
Ford driver Joey Logano and Toyota driver Tyler Reddick have won the last two races after the Chevrolet drivers won the first four, and Busch said that’s a good thing.
“Parity is always good, isn’t it?” he said Saturday. “Last year we had 19 different winners, of course every manufacturer. … it’s been a while since few races have been won by the top winner in the series,” he said.
Chase Elliott led all drivers with five wins last season, a year after Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson had ten wins and two years after Kevin Harvick had won nine.
NASCAR’s top series has had five different winners, with William Byron being the only two-time winner.
“You turn on NASCAR racing and you don’t really know who’s going to win every week,” Busch said.
This is in contrast to Formula 1, for example, where Max Verstappen has won 16 of the last 25 races and his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez has won two more.
But Larson, a fellow Chevrolet driver, isn’t such a fan of parity.
“I don’t care. No,” he said. “Why would I want them to win? I want Chevys to win every race, Hendrick Chevys at that. No. No.”
Kevin Harvick, second among Fords in the points standings and sixth overall, said the responsibility rests with non-Chevrolet teams to catch up.
“You have your things together. They were just faster,” he said.
The drivers said a lack of information on the details of NASCAR’s decision to overturn points penalties against Hendrick Motorsports drivers for using modified air deflectors at Phoenix Raceway made it difficult to comment.
An appeals committee overturned the 100-point penalty imposed on drivers Alex Bowman, William Byron and Kyle Larson, but upheld fines and suspensions for Hendrick’s four crew chiefs.
“I think there’s obviously some technicalities involved with what happened because I like to say I don’t know the details,” said Harvick. “It’s really hard not to know exactly what was said that would make them public hearings. That would be a lot more fun.”
Denny Hamlin called the decision “unprecedented” and added: “I don’t think anything should surprise us. But you know it was certainly unprecedented that they said it was wrong but we will change the penalty. … With no testimony, no evidence, no transparency, none of us really know what’s going on.”
Hamlin has a special interest in the partial reversal. He was fined $50,000 and given 25 points for admitting on his podcast that he intentionally ruined Ross Chastain on the final lap in Phoenix.
His appeal hearing is scheduled for this week.
Busch agreed with the unprecedented description but was dubious.
“Last year a bunch of guys got arrested and they all had their stuff confirmed. So, you know, that this time it’s not fully sustained, I think it shows a break in the system,” he said. “I think it comes down to what you think you can get away with or how you build your case, how good your attorneys are.”
Having rained all morning, qualifying for Sunday’s race was rainy, putting recently reinstated points leader Alex Bowman on pole. He is followed by Busch, Byron, Chastain and Reddick.
“We’ve been driven back and forth here a bit but hopefully I can apply some of what I’ve learned over the years or what I’m looking for in the race car to help us tomorrow,” he said.
Bowman won the 2021 spring race at Richmond.