Will Kurt Busch's Hot Streak Earn Him a Spot in the 2013 Chase?
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A few months ago, I happened to write an article about how it would benefit Kurt Busch to switch over to NHRA Drag Racing. In this article, I gave Busch's 2013 a rather bleak outlook, pointing out that it wouldn't be any different from his 2012 season.
Although I'd like to see Busch make some more Pro Stock appearances, I'll admit that he has proven me wrong about his 2013 season. He's on a roll, and he is poised to make the Chase this season.
But the question remains, will he?
Looking at his 2012 season, there were more downs than ups. Off-track issues hampered any progress he tried to make while driving for James Finch in the No. 51 Chevrolet. Finch, an underdog in NASCAR if there ever was one, had sponsorship woes that continue today. On top of that, Finch has always had subpar equipment in the Cup series, with strong showings being a sporadic thing.
Before season's end, Busch was behind the wheel of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet. A single-car team with help from Richard Childress Racing, Busch was able to post some top-10s on what could widely be considered an underdog team.
A few good showings early in the season were to be expected, yet Busch has, somehow, managed to keep the No. 78 in contention past the halfway point in the season.
In what has been widely considered to be the feel-good story of the season, we are witnessing a former champion who was down on his luck make his way up the comeback trail. That is added inspiration to Busch.
The No. 78 team has always been strong when it comes to qualifying, and Busch further solidified that with a pole at Darlington and an outside-pole at Michigan. However, unlike his predecessor Regan Smith, Busch has posted four top-fives and eight top-10s in 18 races, and he just so happens to sit ninth in points.
We can look at it from an equipment perspective. Childress has excellent equipment, and with the No. 78 basically being a satellite team of RCR, fast cars week-in and week-out are to be expected. Five top-10 performances in the last seven races should say something about that.
But Busch gets a lot of the credit here. He's ready to get back into the spotlight, and in due time, he will. He hasn't won in a while, and to a former champion like Busch, that is absolutely unacceptable. But if he keeps up like this, he'll win again.
There are a few things that need to be taken into consideration, however. For one, his team is a satellite team of RCR. It isn't RCR. It's not Hendrick, Gibbs or Roush-Fenway. It's not Stewart-Haas Racing either. It's Furniture Row Racing, a single-car team mingling with a gaggle of multi-car powerhouse organizations. Organizations that make it a habit of running roughshod over the competition.
Busch has tried to keep his DNFs to a minimum this year, so he has that going for him. But while his top-10 total this season stands at eight, that leaves 10 races where he didn't fare as well. He's in a precarious position sitting in ninth in points, and he is going to have to keep riding his hot streak if he wants to keep that spot.
He's got a shot to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and he's got the support of the NASCAR community. But whether or not he makes it, it is going to be too close.
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