Las Vegas native Kyle Busch won at Michigan last week for the first time ever. Kyle leads the Sprint Cup series in points and is the 3-1 co-favorite to win the Championship.
Busch is also the first driver to clinch a spot in the Chase with three races to go, but once the Chase starts, it’s anyone’s guess how will he do.
He was in a similar situation in 2008 when winning eight of the first 22 races and entering the Chase as points leader, but proceeded to lay a big egg.
In 2009, he didn’t even make the Chase. Last season, while making it, he never became a factor. It’s hard to believe that this year will be any different.
As much as I’d love to see a Vegas kid win another championship like his brother Kurt, I don’t get the confidence from his tone and body language that says he’ll win. It’s almost like John Elway before he had to face the 49ers in the Super Bowl after having lost two already or Jim Kelly in three successive Super Bowls after losing the close one to the Giants.
There’s a vibe they all gave off and it wasn’t a confident winning one. Busch has to talk as much now about his past failures as about what it will take to win which has to be unnerving and rattle around his conscience on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, the co-favorite with Busch to win it all is defending five-time champion Jimmie Johnson who knows nothing about being defeated. He’s only has one win on the season, his least amount at this juncture of any of his winning seasons, but still sits second in points.
If Kyle Busch is Elway before the Super Bowl, Jimmie Johnson is the cool and collective Joe Montana, undefeated in the big one, undeterred by anything except dominating when it counts.
No one has more Chase wins than Johnson and or been more consistent. For Busch to be able to win, he’s going to have to take his game to another level that he may not be capable of and hope that Johnson has an off year. The resiliency of Johnson will be a tough opponent for all.
This week at Bristol Motor Speedway, we can expect Kyle Busch to be brimming with confidence as he has won four of the last five races there. In 13 Bristol races, Busch has won five times tying his brother and Jeff Gordon for the most among active drivers. In Kurt Busch’s case, he’s had 21 cracks at it while Gordon has made 37 starts.
Based on the way the half-mile track runs now, Busch will again be contending for the win. This isn’t the old Bristol we all grew to love so much with the beating and banging of fenders and tempers flaring.
It’s more of a country drive with multiple grooves making it run similar to the one-mile track of Dover. The drivers all seem to love it, but the fans have quickly turned on it making it no longer the most sought after NASCAR ticket anymore.
The top contender to knock Busch off this week is two-time winner Carl Edwards who has a 12.5 average finish in 14 starts. In the first Bristol race this season, Edwards was runner-up to Busch. Edwards currently sits fourth in points and will use these next three races to go all out for wins – trying to seed himself higher when the Chase starts.