Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Busch: 'Change lends itself to open opportunity' at RCR

LEBANON, Tenn. -- Longtime Richard Childress Racing competition executive Andy Petree retired ahead of the trip to Nashville Superspeedway, ushering in a new era at an organization that has struggled this season.

Midseason change doesn't give Richard Childress Racing ample time to prepare for the future, but it potentially opens up opportunities for its two Cup teams to hit on something and make a late charge toward the playoffs.

"Change sometimes lends itself to an open opportunity, hopefully for the better," Kyle Busch said Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. "I respect the hell out of Andy and what he's done and what he's done in the sport and the legacy that he holds.

"So we had a lot of fun together and some good laughs and some good relationships. And hopefully, we can better our program without him there and carry on in the future."

The 2024 season has not been easy for Busch and teammate Austin Dillon. They have both struggled to contend for wins at a variety of tracks. They have both been involved in multiple on-track incidents.

Addressing these issues will be paramount for RCR as it moves forward with interim competition director Keith Rodden leading the charge. Delivering consistent finishes on the track will help the team draw a better qualifying spot, which should, in turn, help both drivers secure better starting positions for each race.

"Speed and comfort, that's the biggest thing," Busch said. "Guys are busting their ass, they are working as hard as they can work. I know that. We're all doing everything we can all day every day to get what we want. But just the feel is not there for me.

"And at times it's not there for Austin either. So we're trying to get all that better to... the more comfortable you are the more positions you can put yourself in and take chances. I feel like I'm having a hard enough time making laps on my own to ever think about trying to make a pass on someone."

Sunday's Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) is the first race with Rodden in his role as interim competition director. This is the 19th race of the season and one of eight remaining races in the regular season.

Dillon will have a solid starting position for Sunday's race. He will line up 11th in the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet as he pursues his fourth top-15 finish and first top-10 at the 1.33-mile track.

Busch will line up 27th in the No. 8 RCR Chevrolet as he pursues his second top-10 finish at Nashville, as well as several points that will potentially help stop his recent slide down the Cup standings.

"The last three weeks have not helped," Busch said about a stretch featuring two 35th-place finishes. "That's been a huge setback. So we just have to stop the bleeding. I think I've been saying that for the last six months. So it hasn't stopped in the last week. It's been gushing pretty hard."