Cubs fan Kurt Busch isn't the only one with MLB postseason fever
There's happiness in the fall air for Kurt Busch this year, and it's not just because he's one of 12 drivers still alive in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
This year, for the first time since 2008, Busch's beloved Chicago Cubs made the Major League Baseball postseason. Not only that, for the first time since 2003, the Cubs actually won a playoff game.
In an elimination round Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, the Cubs prevailed 4-0 in a one-game, winner-take-all matchup with the Pirates to advance to the National League Division Series.
And Busch was there to see it person.
"This year reminds a lot of 2003, when the Cubs were making a run through the playoffs," Busch told FOXSports.com in an exclusive interview. "But we had to get in. We've only played one game, but it's been tremendously exciting to watch this incredible young team, being led by the manager (Joe Maddon). It's really an exciting year, but I've got to stay focused on the Chase and so I don't if I'll have a chance to go to another game."
Now, the Cubs tackle the hated Cardinals, who beat the Cubs on opening day.
"I went to opening day, feeling the energy, feeling the vibe," said Busch. "It was neat to go to an opening day. It was against the Cardinals. They beat us, and I knew they were going to beat us. But we have come a long way in one season. We're playing loose right now and I like the whole vibe out of everybody."
Asked whether it was harder on his nerves to watch his favorite team in the elimination round of a playoff, or to compete in one himself, Busch laughed.
“Well, it’s definitely nerve-wracking with this new (MLB) format and our Chase,” said Busch, who will start sixth in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “But it’s about being patient, and it’s about being calm and focused and applying all the right decisions and staying focused on the task at hand. Whether it’s one lap at a time, or one inning at a time, it’s an exciting feeling for us on the 41 team, and it’s an exciting feeling as a lifelong Cubs fan.”
But Busch isn't the only one with playoff fever. Canadian native Cole Pearn’s love for the Toronto Blue Jays goes deep.
The Furniture Row Racing crew chief was facing two practice sessions Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but as crews set up the garage and kicked off the day, Pearn was in the hauler intensely watching the Blue Jays battle the Texas Rangers.
“It’s been 22 years since we’ve been in the playoffs. I still remember Joe Carter hitting the home run off of Mitch Williams. That memory burns deep in me. Being back home and being able to go to home openers, stuff like that. I know the electricity that goes through those games and what’s going on in the city right now just having a team to cheer for and get behind is just awesome. All of my friends back home, everybody I know is on the bandwagon right now. It’s really fun to see. There’s a huge passion there for baseball in Canada, and to have a whole country cheering for one team makes it pretty awesome.”
Don't forget about our friend and colleague Kenny Wallace -- a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan.
And on the other side of Missouri, Kansas City has the support of Richard Childress Racing.
You can watch continuing coverage of the American League Division Series on FS1.