Kurt Busch: Predicting When He Will Win Again in Sprint Cup

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2012

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 22:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on June 22, 2012 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Threatening is a word that could easily be bantered about as a description of the 2004 Cup champion, Kurt Busch. Some may take that to mean some evil-spirited comment that he may casually verbalize.

The truth is, Busch is a threat to contend for a win whenever he is behind the wheel of a race car that is capable of running with the lead dogs.

NASCAR's senior Busch brother can perhaps do more with lesser equipment than any driver in the garage.

At Sonoma, Busch battled for the lead with Clint Bowyer in the final laps when he brushed a bolted stack of tires causing damage to his car.

The No. 51, out of Phoenix Racing, suffered a broken panhard bar and the rear end would shift from side to side while he was taking the turns of the road course.

Despite being passed by Tony Stewart, Busch was still able to salvage a third place finish with a car most would not have been able to remain competitive with.

It was his best NASCAR Sprint Cup finish this season and just one more example of the outstanding ability this driver has to wheel a car.

Busch spoke of his performance at Sonoma, "It's an amazing day when you can do what we did today." 

During his post-race appearance in the media center, Busch was somewhat emotional after having come so close to a win. If for no other reason, he wanted to win for his team.

Though it can be debated as to whether this driver can race the remainder of the season without losing his cool, he appeared more humbled after Sonoma than the typical persona we have become used to.

Busch had his best finish on a road course, he has run strongest on intermediate tracks. The driver of the No. 51 is apt to be in the lead pack on a superspeedway or short track.

Busch may not get a win this season based strictly on his car setup and speed, but he could navigate the path to Victory Lane with smart strategy by his team and his driving ability.

With the considerable problems this driver has had with his hair-trigger emotions, the goal is to prove he can rein in the outbursts and exercise control of his behavior in and out of the car.

The ultimate goal is not so much a victory in 2012, but to just show his undeniable ability as a wheelman. Few doubt his potential to win a race in top-tier equipment.

The remainder of that goal is to be positive and supportive of his team regardless of finishes. Busch also faces the daunting task of trying to lure sponsors because more money equals better equipment.

Drivers within the NASCAR garage area, for the most part, are behind Busch to do well and acknowledge his incredible talent behind the wheel of a race car.

Those close to this driver understand and respect him. His team at Phoenix Racing will work their hearts out to give him the best possible equipment the underfunded team can provide.

There is little to no chance of Busch making the Chase. He is 24th in the point standings. A win likely will not come this season, though he cannot be counted out to do so.

Look for Busch to win his next race with a top-tier team in 2013. Where he lands just might be with a team owner who has fought some of the same emotional demons or perhaps an iconic car number.

A team fortunate enough to land Busch, despite his baggage, is guaranteed wins if they give him first-class equipment. He will garner attention for any sponsor with his ability behind the wheel. 

Call me crazy, but that is exactly what will happen and victory will come for sure in 2013.