NASCAR notebook: Kyle Busch puts 2015 accident in rearview mirror

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch

DOVER — Kyle Busch is making it look pretty easy right now.

But the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver hasn’t forgotten that his current hot streak started after his nasty accident at Daytona last year.

The wreck left him with a compound fracture of his lower right leg and four months of rehab to get back on the track.

“I don’t think anything in these races is going to be as tough as being able to go through the things I went through with physical therapy and being able to get back,” Busch said last week after winning at Kansas.

The fact is, Busch has eight Sprint Cup victories since getting back to racing. That includes three wins in the last six races for the 2015 series champion.

It was a year ago on Thursday that Busch announced he was returning to the track — a fact Busch acknowledged on his Twitter feed.

“What a year it’s been!” he wrote.

“I don’t know if any of our teams have ever been this hot and been up front every single week,” said team owner Joe Gibbs. “It’s great to watch it.”

Busch looks like he’ll be a contender again today after putting up the top speed in Saturday morning’s practice for the AAA Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway.

Three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas topped the practice session: Busch (157.839 mph), Denny Hamlin (157.356) and Carl Edwards (157.006). In Saturday’s practice, Busch was third, behind only Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.

While his three Sprint Cup wins are the most for any driver this season, Busch sits in second place, four points behind leader Harvick in the points standings.

This weekend, though, Busch is without crew chief Adam Stevens, who is serving a one-game suspension for violating NASCAR’s revised lug not policy.

However, the team does have a photo of Stevens posted in the Dover garage area.

More room to operate

One of the improvements Dover has made to the track is expanding the size of each pit stall.

They’re all now about two feet longer. It may seem like a small change but the race teams things it will make a big difference.

“Pit stalls — that’s a big deal — enlarging them,” said driver Martin Truex, Jr. “Making them just that few extra feet could make all the difference. It’s always been a really tight pit road. It’s difficult to get in and out of your box, especially if there’s some in front and behind you.

“There’s not a lot of room for the pit crews to do their work, so it’s definitely going to be a big help, give us a little bit more room.”

Soft landing

There’s been a lot of discussion about SAFER barriers this weekend and whether Dover needs them all the way around the track.

While driver Jimmie Johnson said the Monster Mile might not need the impact-reducing walls on the front stretch, he’d never be opposed to having them everywhere.

“With all that said, man, I would take a soft wall over a hard wall any day in any situation,” said Johnson.

Notes

Sprint Cup driver Michael McDowell spent Thursday helping to repair the home of National Guard veteran Norene Griffin in Dover. Volunteers from McDowell’s sponsor, Thrivent Financial, and the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity were joined by Dover Air Force basemen to repair siding on the house and replace windows. …  Kyle Busch will switch to No. 75 just for next week’s Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race. The change is to commemorate the 7th anniversary of Mars, Inc., the parent company of Busch’s sponsor, M&M.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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