Just when we thought Kyle Busch was done, he goes off and wins a race. Last week’s win by the Las Vegan at Bristol was his fourth of the year, but first since early May at Richmond. More importantly, Busch closed the gap of being outside looking to the Chase from 70 points to 34 points with two races remaining.
The win seems to have invigorated the slumping Busch’s attitude, along with reviving his team’s morale after starting the season off so dominant with three early wins in the first 10 races.
"No pressure on us yet!" his team said after he crossed the finish line. "This 18 is not going down without a fight!"
Busch was quiet in the moments after winning before celebrating with his trademark smoky burnout on the front stretch and then gave his traditional bow to the booing crowd.
Busch then got out of his car, grabbed the checkered flag from a NASCAR official, but instead of waving to the crowd in his car as he normally does, he gave it to a fan through a hole in the fence.
"I hope this just isn’t a fluke to get in the Chase," he said in Victory Lane. "We need to run well at Atlanta and Richmond."
Chances are, Busch will run well in the next two races, and it might be better than most of the drivers ahead of him. He currently sits 13th in points, but he’s only 84 points behind seventh place Ryan Newman.
The next two races in the Race to the Chase are at Atlanta in two weeks and then onto Richmond, site of his last win prior to Saturday night. Of all the drivers fighting within 162 points of each other from seventh position to 15th, Busch has the best recent history of performance on those tracks.
The top candidates as drivers that could take the wrath of Busch’s charge into making the Chase look to be either Matt Kenseth or Kasey Kahne. Of the two, Kahne would seem like the choice to miss just because of past history between the two regarding the Chase.
Kenseth has never missed the Chase, while Kahne always finds some way to miss it.
In Kahne’s five years on the circuit, he’s only made the Chase once. In two of the four seasons he didn’t make it, he bowed out late when the pressure was on while being in the position like he is now. Don’t think that wears on him a bit. It has to be playing games within his own mind.
A candidate to make the Chase who Busch passed lat week for the 13th position was Brian Vickers, who won two weeks ago at Michigan. Vickers once again popped off about Busch last week and tried to talk to the media about Busch as if he was a psychologist. He even made an indirect comment towards the Busch parents, because of how he perceives Busch.
"I hate that he lives in such an angry place. It must be miserable to live like that," Vickers said Friday at Bristol in the wake of a feud that began on the final lap of last week’s Nationwide race at Michigan.
And that miserable existence Vickers described? Maybe he was confused by Busch’s passion for winning, something that has eluded Vickers in his Cup career for the most part.
"I am a guy who loves to win," Busch shrugged. "There’s nothing else to me but the feeling of winning."
It was very poetic and fitting that following Vickers’ Michigan win on a weekend, where the feud began because of his own stupidity, that Vickers still felt the need to drag it out the following week. Maybe he was feeling chippy and sprout since getting his first win that didn’t involve him bumping out the leaders like he did at Talladega in 2006 to gain his first and last win prior to Michigan.
Busch not only responded, by maturely not responding to the media, but he went on to win Bristol and pass the puffy-chested Vickers in points. He made his statement on the track.
For Vickers, he should have a decent run in Atlanta, but will likely have issues at Richmond as has been his past history trend at the track.
It’s good to have Busch back in the limelight and doing well again, because he stirs so many emotions within the entire NASCAR Nation that keeps people glued to see what he does next whether they like him or not. Many of the fans who like to boo Busch weekly haven’t had much to cheer for lately because he’s been on a three-month slump.
Get ready fans, time to get your throat lozenges for the constant booing, because the villain in black is back and he’s about to make a big run the next two weeks.
After all his troubles, if he makes the Chase, Busch’s four wins will put him in first position with Mark Martin to start the Chase on the basis of wins.
Go get ’em Kyle! Vegas has got your back!
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts