5 reasons Kyle Busch won't repeat as Sprint Cup champ
Kyle Busch put on an incredible display of driving talent and raw courage last year, recovering from horrific leg and foot injuries to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship after 11 seasons of trying.
Without question, Busch is one of the truly elite drivers in NASCAR, ranking fourth among active Cup drivers with 34 victories.
No disrespect for Busch, but here are five reasons he isn't going to win a second consecutive championship.
5. No repeat winners -- History is against Busch. The last driver to win consecutive championships was Jimmie Johnson in 2006-10. Before Johnson, it was Jeff Gordon in 1997-98. They are the only drivers to repeat in the past 20 years.
4. New rules package -- For 2016, NASCAR has adopted yet another new aero package, the fourth in four years. Every time NASCAR makes a change it benefits some teams and drivers and hurts others. It remains to be seen who the 2016 rules will help or hurt.
3. The other teams -- There's a tremendous number of capable drivers and teams out there. Just counting Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske, you have 12 championships among Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski. And Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lead a strong list of drivers looking for their first titles.
2. His own team -- Three of Busch's toughest championship contenders could be his own Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Matt Kenseth already has one Sprint Cup title, Carl Edwards lost the 2011 championship on a tiebreaker and Denny Hamlin has finished as high as second in points. Busch could have another great year and still finish behind one of his teammates.
1. The Chase format -- The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format adopted in 2014 is brutal. One bad race can knock you out of any of the three preliminary rounds as Johnson, Logano and Keselowski found out last year. The final Championship Round is a real crapshoot -- four different drivers in a winner-take-all format. In fact, even getting to the finale is tough. Harvick is the only driver to make it to the Championship Round both years.
Then again -- When Busch missed the first 11 races of last year, no one expected him to win the championship. And he proved them all wrong. Don't count him out this year, either.