Before his high-profile injury and miraculous run to the Sprint Cup title in 2015 — long before that — Busch entered back-to-back Oxford 250 races in Maine in 2005 and 2006.

Things didn’t go so well.

“I felt I needed some redemption,” Busch said Friday.

Five years later, he got what he was looking for.

Busch won the 250 in 2011, dominating the field before holding off Nick Sweet and veteran Jeff Taylor in the final laps.

“I think the biggest thing that stands out, for me, about that victory, was just that it was a race that nothing really went wrong,” Busch said. “We seemed to have a good car, and we were kind of biding our time through the beginning and middle stages of the race. Once it kind of comes down to the end, and you get past your final pit stop, that’s when it’s time to go for it and race real hard.

“It was kind of a challenge, I thought, to stay in front of those guys and to beat those guys,” Busch said. “But in the end, we had a good car and we won that thing.”

Busch also had good cars in 2005 and 2006, but just like hundreds of drivers who have raced in the first 42 events, 250 laps leaves a lot of time for things to go south. In 2005, with a “really fast car,” a lug nut got locked in the wheel and brake caliper on the final pit stop, his left front tire inevitably blew, and Busch had to wave bye to any chance at winning a race he was leading.

A blown engine while racing eventual winner Jeremie Whorff for the lead ended his 2006 race. He was a little lucky to even make the show, having to win the last-chance qualifier after getting wrecked in a heat race.

Even for a driver who has won dozens of times in NASCAR, and won multiple championships across divisions, a race in western Maine could teach him a lesson.

“Just having patience and being able to be around until the end of the race is the biggest thing,” Busch said. “It’s a long one.”

Maybe two unsuccessful attempts and a victorious third can humble a big-time driver, but Busch said he has plenty of respect for the Oxford 250, which he put in the same breath as other notable short track races like the Snowball Derby, Redbud 300 and Winchester 400.

“It’s a race that should be well-respected and is hard to win,” Busch said. “It’s tough when you’re an outsider, an out-of-towner, trying to come up to that race and be able to out-do the locals, and the guys that are really good that know everything about the racetrack and run there each and every week.”

Busch called a return to the race a “long shot,” but said if the stars align right, maybe it could happen.

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