Kurt Busch snaps winless streak and lands Chase spot with Pocono win
If a team consistently brings fast cars to the track and doesn’t make mistakes during the race, the odds of winning are actually pretty good.
Just ask Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Busch came int0 Monday’s rain-delayed Axalta We Paint Winners 400 at Pocono Raceway quietly riding an impressive hot streak: He had finished in the top 10 in all seven of the prior Cup points races, which had him all the way up to second in points behind his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick.
But because Busch was winless in the first 13 races of the season, there wasn’t much buzz about him so far, especially with the Toyota dominating the early part of the year.
That’s not a problem any more, as Busch controlled the final quarter of the Pocono race to score his first victory of the season and the 28th of his Cup career. And Busch did it without crew chief Tony Gibson, who is serving a one-race suspension for lug nut issues.
With his fuel load in question, Busch managed to take the lead on the last restart and go fast enough to hold off second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and rookie Chase Elliott to win.
It was a difficult balancing act: Busch had to run hard enough to hold onto the lead in the closing laps but not so hard that he ran his fuel cell dry. It was not an easy task, but Busch did it.
Now, Busch is locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which is critical, since he no longer has to worry about making into the NASCAR playoffs.
He won’t have any sleepless nights over the final 12 races of the Sprint Cup regular season worrying about making the Chase.
"It’s tough to balance everything," said Busch. "And when you have a fast car and an interim crew chief and the way that the fuel mileage played out, I didn’t know if we were going to have enough fuel.
Busch knew the significance of what he and the team accomplished.
"This is a wonderful win for us," Busch said. "We’ve been so close all year. And it’s a matter of just putting it all together — pit crew, engines … and everybody who works on these bodies, the chassis, you name it.
"It’s just so much fun to drive and be competitive and be up front."
Busch has been competitive all year.
Now, he’s a winner, too, and headed to the Chase and a title shot. It’s a great position to be in.