Neither of the Busch brothers is having a particularly memorable 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season as they head into the 10-race playoffs.

Older brother Kurt Busch has had some winless years sprinkled in between one- or two-win seasons in the last decade of his 20-year career. So showing up for the playoffs without a checkered flag is a little unusual but not super shocking.

But for defending champion Kyle Busch — the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver who won a total of 18 races in the previous three seasons — entering the postseason without a win is a huge surprise.

“We put ourselves in this position to be playoff-eligible and to have a shot at the championship,” 42-year-old Kurt said Wednesday during a Zoom press conference when asked about competition between him and 35-year-old Kyle going into the postseason.

Kyle’s last checkered flag was at the 2019 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for his second career title, and he’s never had a winless season since he started racing full-time in the Cup Series in 2005. Kurt’s last trip to Victory Lane was at Kentucky Speedway in July of 2019, when he held off Kyle to win, and his last winless year was 2013.

Kurt — who drives the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet — continued about his and Kyle’s approach to the playoffs:

“We know that this is an opportunity to do something great. So just one week at a time. …

“I know my little brother, though. He’s putting a little extra stress on himself because he wants to win a race and continue his streak of winning seasons. And so, he’s thrown a little extra pressure on himself that way. And so maybe that’ll be a distraction for him.”

Without winning during the 26-race regular season, the Busch brothers made their way into the playoffs based on points. Kyle is 14th in the standings while Kurt is 15th out of 16 playoff drivers, and they have three races to get a win an automatically advance to the next round or to sneak into the top-12 drivers based on points again.

The first playoff race is Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, followed by races at Richmond Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway — where Kyle and Kurt are the winningest active drivers with eight and six wins, respectively — before the playoff field drops to 12 drivers.

When asked Wednesday if he could have imagined he and Kyle entering the playoffs winless, Kurt said:

“I never would have guessed. I felt like the way our season started was strong and consistent, and then we had a shot to win the first race back, after our delay , at Darlington . And then, it just seemed like these opportunities here or there just like slipped through our fingers and we didn’t execute to get those wins.

“And so, my little brother, same thing. I feel like his luck — he’s challenged his luck in many different ways and it just hasn’t unfolded for him to get those wins. But hey, we’re both championship eligible. We’re in the playoffs, and here’s the reset. So here we go.”

The Southern 500 opens the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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