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“I Hated Everybody”- Kyle Busch Expresses Regret for Trying to Help Mark Martin Win the Daytona 500

Published 02/16/2024, 8:21 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

There is hardly any room for emotions or goodwill when NASCAR drivers take on the racetracks. Especially if they are racing at the Daytona 500. However, a young Kyle Busch back in 2007 let his sentiments creep in a bid to help Mark Martin win the crown jewel race, a decision he regrets to this day. Because after 18 attempts at the Daytona 500, Rowdy himself is still in the good company of legends who have yet to win the esteemed race.

However, his help and sacrifice were in vain, as Martin lost the race to Kevin Harvick by a whisker of 0.02 seconds. Now that another Daytona 500 is in sight, RCR’s No. 8 lamented about his actions during the 2007 race. Speaking on the Sirius XM NASCAR Radio show, the 38-year-old driver spoke about his thoughts and emotions going into that race. Moreover, what prompted him to root for Martin and help win the race?

Kyle Busch is trying to keep his emotions off the racetracks

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One that got away, will always be a feeling for Kyle Busch whenever he thinks about the Daytona 500. In his successful career that has spanned over 20 years of racing at the top level, he is still looking for that win at Daytona. Perhaps Busch lacks that killer instinct, or, let’s just say, he is good at his heart. Neither of the two gets you a win in NASCAR, and unfortunately for Busch, he had to learn this the hard way.

Rolling back the time he spoke about the race where he tried to help Mark Martin, he said, “I mean, I was still 20 years old and hated everybody. Still do, don’t get me wrong but Mark was certainly one of the sentimental favorites, and I always grew up respecting Mark Martin and who he was and what he had done in our sport. I would love to help Mark and push Mark, but damn it, we’re all selfish. Should’ve been more selfish.”

At the time, the young Kyle Busch was only able to achieve a #24 finish, driving a Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevy. Meanwhile, his idol, Mark Martin, had a bitter pill to swallow with a second-place finish to Kevin Harvick by just 0.02 seconds, which was a record that remained untouched for a long time. Ultimately, the record was broken in 2016, when Denny Hamlin pipped Martin Truex Jr by a margin of 0.01 seconds at the Daytona 500.

Read More: “P*ssed” Ryan Blaney Sounds Off on Kyle Busch After Dirty Move Jeopardized Daytona 500 Run

Understandably, Busch is hunting to break down his Daytona 500 duck, but he is of the opinion that a failure to win the race won’t determine his legacy as a NASCAR driver overall.

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Busch is a future Hall of Famer even without a Daytona 500 win

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It has to be noted that Busch is among the many greats of the sport who were unable to bring home the Daytona 500 win. The list of those unlucky top dogs includes Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr, and even Mark Martin. Despite the void, these drivers have without the crown jewel, that does not make them any less of a driver. Greatness isn’t defined by a single win, and Kyle Busch is banking on this resolve going into his 19th attempt at Daytona.

Speaking about his resemblance to some of the greats of the game, Busch pitched his thoughts in case he failed to secure a Daytona 500 win. He said, “I mean, look at Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart. They are some of the greats that have blue jackets that made it to Hall of Fame that haven’t won this race. It would certainly be nice to not worry about going in and have this trophy at home.”

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A Daytona 500 win for Kyle Busch in his 19th attempt would mean the world to him. But once again, not being able to win the almighty NASCAR race would not be a blemish on the glorious career he has had so far.

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania

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Chintan Mahesh Devgania is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As someone who likes to dive deep into the sport, he often takes up less explored topics to eventually see them make their way into top stories. His report on Toyota’s young recruit, Jade Avedisian, sharing her thoughts on Late Model Racing, was an example of that.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta