Is Kyle Busch's win enough to keep the No. 18 team together?

Jim Utter
·3 min read

Busch, with the help of his crew chief, Adam Stevens, was able to stretch his fuel the final 66 laps in Wednesday’s rain-delayed race at Texas Motor Speedway and remain out front to claim the victory.

Busch has now won at least once in all 16 of his fulltime seasons in the Cup series.

After the race, Stevens said he didn’t know if he would remain in his current role in 2021, only that he would be working at JGR.

The duo has worked together since the start of the 2015 season and won two series championships (2015 and 2019).

“We haven’t really had those discussions. You know, I’m sure that we will have those type of discussions in the near future and see how it plays out,” Steven said.

“I know that I have a home at Joe Gibbs Racing and that’s most important, but this is a performance business, and we need a lot more nights like tonight, a lot more like what we’re used to having.

“We’ll have those conversations here shortly I’m sure.”

Dealing with a winless season

Stevens was asked to describe how it has been going through this season while Busch remained winless and then took an early exit from the playoffs, unable to defend his championship from a year ago.

“It hasn’t been a lot of fun, to be honest with you. It just seems like whenever we do have a good car or have a chance to be in the mix, we just haven’t been able to capitalize at all, just issues on top of issues, and after a while it’ll wear you down, knowing that the potential of the team is always there,” he said.

“We’ve certainly had some bad runs, but we haven’t had as many as the record would show. We’ve had a lot of DNFs for various reasons, and just when we get those good cars, we just haven’t been able to capitalize, and just an odd year in that regard.

“You don’t want to break a streak like KB has got going, certainly not on my watch. And especially when we have all the tools to do what we need to do and have been so close so many times. It’s nice to finally kind of dot that ‘I’ and cross that ‘T’ and make it happen.”

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Statistically, it’s been an uncharacteristic year for Busch and his No. 18 team.

With two races remaining in the season, Busch is on track to have the lowest number of wins since 2014, lowest top-five finishes since 2012 and lowest top-10 finishes since 2015 (when he missed 11 races at the start of the season).

Asked if he’s doubted himself or his relationship with Busch this season, Adams said: “There are things that you think about certainly when you’re not performing at the level that you expect yourself to perform and expect your team to perform, and you question those things.

“You know, that stuff creeps in there, but you have to go back and look at all the pieces of the puzzle, and when you realize that you have the pieces, you know what the pieces should be, and that you are doing the right things, and you can point to it when it goes right and you can point to it when it goes wrong.

“I think it's a little bit easier to swallow, you just have to keep your wits about you and keep focused on doing the right stuff.”