Strengths – Kurt Busch is a talented driver across many different track types. He’s capable of finishing well at nearly every track on the schedule. In 2018 look for him to be at his best at shorter flat tracks, road courses, restrictor plate tracks and Pocono. At intermediate tracks he’s also proven himself to be a solid performer.
Weaknesses – Kurt Busch and the #41 team showed some weakness in 2017. In 8 of the 10 Playoffs races he finished 19th or worse. Being one of the older drivers who’s team showed commitment problems during the off-season makes that really concerning. Also this upcoming season he’ll have a rookie crew chief, based off history that hasn’t always been a good situation for him.
Consistency was a major issue for Busch in 2017, and 2016. Outside of a good stretch last summer, which was negated by a pitiful Playoff appearance he never really had a good stretch in 2017.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – High
Kurt Busch runs well at intermediate tracks, but he’s not elite. I would say he ranks right around the top third of the field mark. Last year at these venues he scored the 14th most points. When you look at the names above him last year I really don’t see him moving up, if anything he might get bumped by a few drivers below him. I think “Father Time” might be catching up to him and he’ll have a new first time crew chief in 2018.
In 2018 on a weekly basis at intermediate tracks I would set his base line fantasy value as being a low-double digits driver who has a good chance to finish in the top ten.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – High
Kurt Busch is a respectable flat track driver. At both the smaller and the bigger flat tracks he’s capable of coming home with a good finish. Over the last five seasons on this track type his average points ranking is 11.8. Last year he scored the 16th most points, in the two prior seasons he scored the 4th and 10th most points.
Last year at shorter flat tracks over the six races Busch had 3 top tens, and in the other three races he finished outside the top 20. At all three shorter flat tracks tracks in 2018 he should be viewed as a top ten contender heading into the weekend. At Richmond last year Busch swept the top ten with results of 4th and 8th. Currently he has four straight top tens there. At Phoenix in 2017 neither race was good for him last year and he finished in the twenties both events. In the five Phoenix races prior to last year he finished between 5th to 8th. At New Hampshire last fall he wrecked, in the two prior races he finished 8th and 5th.
At the big flat tracks I really like Busch at Pocono. He won there in spring 2016 and since 2013 he’s only once finished lower than 13th. Last year he had results of 4th and 13th. Over the last four races there his average finish is 7th.
Short Track Fantasy Value – High
Kurt Busch is a very capable short track driver, at two of the three venues. The one track where you absolutely need to avoid him is Martinsville. He’s a two-time winner there, but it’s arguably his worst track, and a good day for him there is a low-double digit to mid-teens finish. Since his spring 2014 Martinsville win he hasn’t cracked the top ten and has a 25.4 average finish. I will note he’s run well in quite a few of those races (14.3 average running position over that stretch) but he’s had a fair amount of problems. Last fall he was low-double digits good but was involved in some late wrecking which led to his 22nd place finish. With 5 laps to go he was in 13th. In spring 2017 it looked like he had mid-teens potential but wrecked around the mid-point.
Richmond is his best short track. He’s a recent winner (spring 2015) who currently has four straight top tens. Last year he finished 4th and 8th. Since 2013 he’s consistently run well and has only twice finished outside the top ten.
At Bristol he runs well, but I would describe him as a high-risk/ high-reward driver. Over the last two years he’s had one result in the top five, and one result of 25th or worse per season. Kurt Busch is a five-time winner but it’s important to note he hasn’t been to victory lane since 2006.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – High
For years I’ve heralded Kurt Busch as the best restrictor plate driver who’s never won, after winning last years Daytona 500 I’ve had to come up with a new opening line for plate racing content on him. Last year on this track type he scored the 4th most points, in 2016 he scored the 5th most points. At both tracks in recent seasons he’s been one of the better competitors.
At Daytona, Busch has been good. In 4 of the last 6 races he’s finished in the top ten. He won last years Daytona 500, and ran well last summer until crashing (finished 8th in Stage #1 and 4th in Stage #2). In the one other race he finished outside the top ten over this stretch he was running in 2nd until he was wrecked on the last lap.
At Talladega last fall Busch wrecked and finished 25th. In the six races prior to that he finished in the top 12 every race and had a 7.8 average result. Last spring Busch finished 6th. In 2016 he swept the top ten with results of 4th and 8th.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Elite
Kurt Busch is a strong road course driver. On this track type I view him as an elite talent. On a year to year basis at these venues he’s performed at a high-level.
Last year at road courses Busch scored the 9th most points and was one of five drivers who finished in the top ten both races. In 2016 he also scored the 9th most points, in the three seasons prior to that he scored the 4th most points.
At Sonoma, Kurt Busch has been a very strong performer. He’s a past champion (2011) who has a 5.6 average finish over the last seven races. Additionally over that stretch he’s been a very safe option finishing in the top 12 every race. Last year he had a strong showing and finished 7th, in 2016 he finished 10th.
At Watkins Glen he’s been a consistent strong performer. Over the last five races there he’s finished in the top 11 every race and has a series best 6.8 average finish (only counting drivers who competed in every race).
In 2018 I would look for Kurt Busch to compete for a top ten at all three road courses on the schedule.