Chris Gill: Kyle Busch needs wins to get in
Eighty points out of the last automatic berth in the Chase for the Championship, and just one victory with five races left in the regular season, Kyle Busch has to make something happen. Soon.
Following last weekend’s potentially season-altering crash at Pocono Raceway, Busch only has one realistic option: Win. Win now, win often.
“It’s so frustrating because we’ve had good race cars every week and, aside from Indy a few weeks ago, we just haven’t had anything go our way,” Busch said. “That’s the way our season has gone. I don’t think we’ll be able to get back to the top-10, so we need to win to get in. We have some really good race tracks coming up. I think I’ve won at every one of them.”
It’s a good thing the NASCAR Sprint Cup series rolls into Watkins Glen International this weekend for the Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen.
Busch is averaging a 9.3 finish at the high-speed 2.45-mile, 7-turn “short course” in his career, and if you throw out a 33rd-place finish in his rookie season, that average is boosted to 5.33 in his last six starts. He won at The Glen in 2008, even holding off Tony Stewart to do so, and if not for a late caution in last year’s 90-lapper, most likely would have two victories at the storied Schuyler County road course.
The most impressive statistic: He’s completed 634 out of 634 laps – even coming back from five laps down to finish ninth one year.
Even though The Glen has been a Sprint Cup points ATM for Busch the past six seasons, peril lies around every corner – especially on the restarts.
In last year’s Monday afternoon thriller, Busch restarted with the lead in extra innings, but got out-braked by Brad Keselowski, who brought Marcos Ambrose along with him. Busch had to settle for third place.
“If you out-brake somebody getting in there and you both are already on so much edge, one of you is going to have to give,” Busch said. “If you’re that guy on the inside, you’re going to run into the guy on your left and you’re going to put him off into the island, there, in the grass. You’ve got to be conscious of that. That’s why I got out of the way and stopped when I had my problem there.”
Busch is 15th in the driver standings, trailing Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman (tied for 13th) by 12 points and each of those drivers have one victory this season. To boot, they’re both pretty good at The Glen, too. Carl Edwards is winless in 12th place and Kasey Kahne all but owns one playoff wild card berth with two wins in 11th place.
Statistically, Busch is much better than Kahne and Edwards at The Glen, but making up ground on them will only go so far. To make the Chase, Busch has to win at least once in the next five races and only two drivers in this weekend’s field (Stewart and Ambrose) have better average finishes at WGI than he does.
“Hopefully, we have a good shot at running well there again this year with our M&M’s Camry,” Busch said. “We won four years ago and should have been able to win last year, so we’ve been decent and, hopefully this time around, we can get another win.”
(Follow Chris Gill on Twitter at @TheLeaderGill).