The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Kurt Busch checks in at No. 8 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“Both of the Busch brothers are absolute wheelmen. It’s incredible,” one former driver says. “I haven’t seen a brother combo like that in NASCAR. It’s way stronger than the Labontes (Terry and Bobby). They’re all champions, now that Kyle has won one, too, but the Busch brothers have won way more races than the Labontes ever did.”
“We all know about Kurt’s well-documented temper problems. He obviously is his own worst enemy all too often, and sometimes how he handles success is more important than how he deals with setbacks,” says one industry insider who has witnessed many Busch blowups. “But he did a fantastic job last year, making the Chase after being suspended for the first three races. For a while we even wondered if he’d race at all, and when he came back, he absolutely put on a show those first few races.
“Then again, no one has ever questioned his ability to drive. Maybe seeing the way Kyle has matured will eventually help him mature in the same way, although he’s always going to have that edge about him. In a weird sort of way, though, it’s part of what makes him so great behind the wheel. He seems to have found a home at Stewart-Haas Racing, where he’s in top-notch equipment, and Tony Gibson is a good fit for him as a crew chief. They like to say they’re a good fit because they’re both ‘old-school racers,’ and that is absolutely correct.”
A New Man? Busch, known for an aggressive driving style, went through all 33 races last season without a DNF. That’s the first time he’s done so since going 7-for-7 as a part-time Cup rookie in 2000. With top-quality equipment provided by Hendrick Motorsports, look for this accomplishment to become a trend, not an aberration.
Fontana Fury: Busch has run third twice at the two-mile California oval since joining his No. 41 team in 2014. Robbed of a victory there by a late caution last season, he’ll be out for redemption. It’s only one race, but Busch is a “must start” here.
Road Course Warrior: The last time Busch finished outside the top 12 at a road course? 2012. Brother Kyle may have two wins during that stretch (2013-15), but it’s Kurt who has both more consistency and a higher average finish (5.8).
Trouble… Keep in mind that Kurt’s missed at least one race for off-track incidents twice in the last four seasons. There’s always a risk.