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.
Kyle Busch checks in at No. 4 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“Listen, we already know that Kyle Busch is one of the greatest drivers of all time,” says one former driver. “We all have a tendency to throw the word ‘great’ around a little too much these days. But what makes Kyle truly great is all the wins. My gosh, he just wins in everything all the time. We all have just been shocked that he hadn’t won a (Cup) championship before last year.”
“Some people have it together right away and with some people it takes time,” a former crew chief says. “The only thing he was missing was patience. There is no doubt in my mind that breaking his leg (and foot), getting married and having a kid were all keys to his success. That’s it in a nutshell. We already know he’s great; he’s won all the races there are to win. The key to him winning that championship was something that God did that was unexpected. We don’t see these things coming until they come. But he’s a completely different person after getting married, having a baby and breaking his leg.
“Sometimes when you’re sitting down on the outside looking in, it gives you a different perspective and it changes you. And what I noticed about Kyle this year, is that when his car wouldn’t handle good, he would drive it. In the past, when his car didn’t handle good, he would drive it hard and then wreck it. That’s the deal with him.”
Boom or bust: The reigning champ can be tricky from a fantasy perspective because of his aggressive driving style. His 18 DNFs since 2011 pale in comparison to top-level rivals Harvick (eight), Johnson (14), Joey Logano (13) and Brad Keselowski (six).
Starting up front: Leagues with qualifying points should take heed of Busch’s average start in 2015 (8.2), a number that came with one pole position. Only Joey Logano’s was better as Busch posted the best average of his career.
The seven-year itch: Busch is the defending champ at Sonoma and was second at Watkins Glen last year, proving his prowess on road courses. But hold on a second: Busch’s last Sonoma top 10 before that victory was in 2008, and he was 40th at Watkins Glen in 2014.
Kentucky king: Use Busch for all intermediates but especially in the Bluegrass State. He dominated the Kentucky event last year, leading 163 laps en route to victory, and hasn’t run outside the top 10 in any of the five Cup races held there.