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'It's Disgraceful' Kyle Busch Enraged by Daytona 500 Fuel Saving Strategy

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch didn't mince words as he gave his thoughts about the fuel-saving shenanigans that were utilized throughout the Daytona 500.


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"It's disgraceful," and "It's pathetic."

Those were the strong words that Kyle Busch used to describe the fuel-saving strategy that was employed by every team in the Daytona 500 field a week ago during his media availability on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

When asked flat-out if fuel saving, to the level we saw in the Daytona 500, is a problem, Busch said, “I believe it is. I believe it’s a problem. The start of the race last weekend for the Daytona 500 – we’re all sitting around there running half-throttle; not passing and just riding in a line. I felt disgraceful, myself, being a race car driver – wanting to go fast, lead laps and win the Daytona 500, and that was our strategy that we had to employ at the start of the race because everybody was doing it."

Busch is about as passionate of a racer as there is in the NASCAR Cup Series garage or any garage for that matter, and he simply can't find it in his heart to call it racing to purposely run laps several seconds slower in a pack than a single car can run at Daytona.

"When you’re running wide open and you’re in the draft, your pace is probably a 46.30. We were running 49.80’s. almost 50 second lap times. It was pathetic," Busch pointed. "I was like, how slow are we going to go? I felt bad for the fans. This is not good for them. It’s not what I want to be doing. But when you kind of get in that situation, I don’t know what you do. The third lane could have developed. It was so early in the race; nobody wants to develop a third lane. We’re riding – it’s a 500 mile race, don’t blow everything up in the first stage, right? But somebody could have just pulled out into the outside lane and literally just ran to the front and done whatever they wanted to do. So I was surprised nobody did that.”

The frustration from Busch, and honestly, the majority of the drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series garage following Monday night's Daytona 500, is palpable. They're racers, and racers want to run as fast as humanly possible each and every lap.

But that's not the strategy that it took to win last week's Daytona 500. So, what could fix the 2025 edition of The Great American Race?

"We kind of talked about it in our Chevy meeting last weekend among the other drivers, and there was really no solution that came to the forefront," Busch admitted. "The only one that I really had was to reduce the fuel cell size to create more opportunities of coming to pit road to just break it up more. But then you put your pit crew and the guys on pit road in more danger, you put twice as much emphasis on doing all of that.

"When you come to pit road, it kind of breaks up the field for a little while. Like you take about 10 laps to kind of get it sorted back in and get going again. We go like 30 to 33 laps on fuel. If you go 15 or 16, and it takes 10 to bunch everybody back up – well now you’re getting ready to pit again. So you’re not going to sit there and save. You’re going to be going all out as much as you can, and making sure that you’re not fuel saving in order to do the leapfrog strategy. A couple of guys said – no, you’d still do the same thing, but I don’t know that you would.”

Whether shrinking the fuel cell, eliminating stage cautions, or whatever solution ends up being utilized, it is crystal clear that a solution of some kind is needed. The racing shown in the Daytona 500 on the surface looked really, really good as cars were side-by-side all race long.

However, they weren't battling for position. The cars were locked in a side-by-side grid, where nobody was pushing to go to the front. It was all about riding around until the next pit stop.

“There’s no passing," Busch said. "People want to see passing. The fans are all about – hey, we want to see racing. That’s not racing. That’s riding. Yeah, back in the days – sure, you had 500 or 600-mile races where you needed to ride for a while. The Coca-Cola 600, for instance – it’s a long race, but you’re at least still trying to pass the guy in front of you and get in position as the day goes on. You’re not just riding 15th for the first 100 laps and being like – yeah, cool, I’m good with riding 15th right now. No.. you want to get further up the ladder and run with speed, your talent, your car’s ability, and everything else. Doing what we did last week, you might as well pull the cars out of the parking lot and run rental cars around.”

The sport's most prestigious race has officially turned into 480 miles of riding around and 20 miles of edge-of-your-seat action, and nobody is happy about it. The drivers aren't happy. The fans aren't happy. And you would assume NASCAR isn't happy to see the thundering pack of leaders at Daytona running slower speeds than when they were on track by themselves in qualifying.

If nobody is happy, it's time for a change. The only question is; what will the change be?

Photo Credit: Craig White, Racing America

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