Busch, 38, picked up his third victory of the year Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and is now tied with William Byron for the most in the series.

The last time Busch had three or more wins was 2019, when he finished with five victories and won his second Cup title with Joe Gibbs Racing.

While it’s hard to imagine his first season with Richard Childress Racing could be off to a better start, Busch and his crew chief on the No. 8 Chevrolet, Randall Burnett, realize a lot of improvement still needs to be made if Busch is to have a shot at a third Cup championship.

“We’ve had some really good runs. We’ve had three wins obviously, which is great. But we’ve also had some of the dismal days as well,” Busch said. “We’ve had peaks and valleys so far this year.

“We just got to find the greater planes, if you will, and level this thing out a little bit. It’s great to be able to score a win in St. Louis for Randall’s hometown, that’s really good. So, the team is really on a high.

“The whole organization has been really fighting hard, doing a great job.”

Race winner Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, 3CHI Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

RCR seemed an unlikely landing spot for Busch when he became a free agent last season but so far, the pairing has paid big dividends for the driver and organization.

Busch got back to Victory Lane early with a win in the season’s second race at Auto Club Speedway in California. He also grabbed a superspeedway win at Talladega in April.

Sprinkled between his wins, however, have been struggles, particularly at the short tracks.

He was 14th at Richmond, Va., 21st at Martinsville, Va., and 21st at Dover, Del. He’s led a total of 37 laps in five races on tracks 1-mile or less.

The series championship will be decided at Phoenix, a 1-mile oval. Busch finished eighth in the spring race there and failed to lead a lap.

“I think we’ve got a lot of potential. I think we’ve got a lot to clean up, too, and we talk about it repeatedly,” Burnett said. “We’ve had some really fast cars and taken ourselves out of races with some mistakes and things like that.

“Me and Kyle, and our whole group have talked about it, and we know we’ve all got to clean it up on our end, especially if we’re going to compete for the championship.

“We are fast with this intermediate package. We’ve struggled really bad on the short tracks, haven’t got the feel for him of what he needs in a car on a short track yet.”

A title-contender?

Busch said the entire organization has been working hard to get him comfortable with the car at every track, knowing more wins and even a championship is possible this season. RCR hasn’t won a title since 1994.

“We’re really putting our head down and digging in and trying to figure out what it’s going to be able to take to get me comfortable to make me fast, right?” Busch said.

“You got to have a good horse to ride. So far this year we’ve had a few.”

Burnett said Busch has made an easy transition to RCR.

“Really proud of this No. 8 bunch. They dig in hard. Great group of guys, great group of racers, and Kyle has fit right in with them,” Burnett said.

“He’s done a great job of adapting over here and lent plenty of insight on his side to how to make things better, as well, so we’re all working together towards that.”

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