Kyle Busch’s career trajectory looking eerily similar to this seven-time NASCAR champion

    To say Kyle Busch’s 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has been a disappointment would be a massive understatement. 

    The two-time Cup Series champion is currently outside of the playoff picture after 16 races, trailing Bubba Wallace by eight points for the final spot in the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. 

    After winning three races in 2023, many fans had high expectations for Busch, but so far, he’s failed to meet them. 

    Perhaps the most interesting thing about Busch’s 2023 and 2024 seasons? They look very similar to the latter years of Jimmie Johnson’s career, in which the seven-time Cup Series champ struggled to find consistent speed. 

    After winning his seventh championship in 2016, Johnson won three races in 2017, making it to the Round of 12 in the playoffs and eventually finishing 10th in the standings. In 2023, it was Busch who won thrice, made the Round of 12, and finished out the season 14th in points. 

    For Johnson, 2018 was the first sign that a hard crash at Pocono in the summer of 2017 had a bigger impact than initially thought, as he suffered his first winless season since taking over the No. 48 car in 2002. While Johnson did limp into the playoffs, he was eliminated in the Round of 16, after a last-lap crash at the Charlotte Roval took him from a potential win to elimination. 

    While Busch’s 2024 fate is obviously unknown, he’s shown a similar lack of speed to Johnson in 2018, and even if he does manage to make the 16-driver playoff field, he won’t be considered a serious championship threat. 

    2018 would end up being the last time Johnson made the NASCAR playoffs, as he and the No. 48 team narrowly missed the cut in both 2019 and 2020. 2020 ended up being Johnson’s final NASCAR season, and while the outlook for Busch doesn’t look quite that grim, the 39 year-old isn’t getting any younger. 

    Time will tell if the latter years of Busch’s career mirror Johnson’s, but right now, it’s a possibility that Busch will have the same saddening end to his career that Johnson had. 

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