Hot-Starting Busch Is Now Struggling

by Monte Dutton

Kyle Busch’s Nationwide Series victory at Gateway International Raceway was his sixth of the season. Three times he has won at the Sprint Cup level. Busch also has won two of his seven Camping World Truck Series starts to date. At age 24, Busch has won more races, by far, than anyone else in NASCAR over the past two seasons. Yet Busch maintains a precarious position in the Sprint Cup point standings with seven races remaining in the regular season. Twelve drivers will advance to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch currently ranks 10 by Monte Dutton th , and his edge over 13th-place Greg Biffle is only 13 points. In the first 19 races, even though he has won three times, Busch has finished in the top five only four times and six times in the top 10. By comparison, the points leader, Tony Stewart, has 15 top-10 finishes. “Results side of it, I think we’ve been a big failure,” said Busch. “We’re struggling here to make ourselves comfortable for the Chase. “Last year was a great year. It just seemed like everything fell into place. It was easy: easy to run up front, easy to win races. It just felt weird because it was just too easy.” Busch began the 2008 Chase as the favorite. He had won eight times during the first 26 races. In the Chase, Busch opened with finishes of 34th , 43rd and 28th , leaving his championship hopes in ruin. He wound up 10th . Perhaps this year Busch, from Las Vegas, can get hot at the right time. “Through the year, the regular 26 races [in 2008], everything was just easy,” he said. “This year has been a struggle. Everything has been so hard. It’s just so hard to gain any track position. It’s hard to finish a race in the top five, let alone even in the top 10. “It’s just pathetic. We’ve got to do something to change our performance where we can at least pass cars and go to the front instead of being in the front and letting cars pass us and trying to salvage a finish. It’s not what wins races.”

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week ( features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at (c) 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.

Kyle Busch has won three Sprint Cup races this season, but he’s far from a lock to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. (Photo: John Clark/NASCAR This Week)