Kyle Busch may have been able to hold off Mark Martin for the win at Bristol Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago.
But the bigger question still remains- can he hold off father time long enough to make it into the chase for the Sprint Cup championship?
Busch, who took the lead from Michael Waltrip on lap 433, was able to overcome a four lap shootout with lap leader Mark Martin to grab his fourth win of the season, while putting himself within 34 points of the final spot to get into the chase.
It may not have been one of Busch’s more dominant wins, but it was enough to keep his No. 18 M&M’s team afloat. Especially with only two races left that will be the deciding factor.
Busch, who is no stranger to watching a dominant season get away, is now on the other side of the fence trying desperately to salvage a season that has gotten away from him a lot earlier than last season.
Busch, who led the series with eight wins last season, also went into the chase as the top seed with many fans thinking he would be the driver to beat for the championship.
But instead, fate would deal him a very bittersweet hand. Before he knew what was happening he was sitting in the 12th spot after the first two chase races.
Busch and his no. 18 M&M’s Toyota powered team would never recover, and they would eventually finish out the season 10th in points.
What a huge disappointment it had to be by only picking up two additional top fives during the chase, which was a far cry after leading the point standings for 16 consecutive weeks before the final 10 races.
Busch, who hasn’t seen the points lead all season long even though he was the first driver to reach three victories this season, is now tied with Mark Martin with four victories a piece.
Busch who is also on the verge of missing out on only his second chase appearance, with his first one coming during his rookie season back in 2005 where he finished 20th in the point standings.
Make no mistake about it; Busch is hoping that the racing gods will be generous enough to allow him another chance at his first Sprint Cup championship.
So now here he is with only two more races left before the chase begins, and for the past fives weeks he has been on the outside looking in.
Even with the win that he picked up at Bristol, there is still a small mountain to climb. Time right now is of the essence, along with history, especially if it decides to repeat itself.
Ever since the very first chase year back in 2004, only one driver has been able to battle back from the 13th unlucky spot with two races remaining and earn the privilege to do battle for the Sprint Cup Championship.
History, as we see, has not been very generous to those drivers who have found themselves in this most precarious spot at this time of the season.
Busch’s next big obstacle couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially for his fans that seem to think that he is invincible.
Busch, just like any other driver, has his ghosts from race tracks past that just love to keep him at bay while showing him who is complete control.
There are always those tracks that the drivers will tell you that for some unseen reason don’t like to play fair and will do everything in their power to not only frustrate them, but to also wreck their season.
It’s unfortunate for Busch that with the schedule change for 2009, his worse nightmare popped up at a time when he could have used a track that was more willing to give him some type of hope.
Atlanta Speedway is not the track that Busch needed to visit when he desperately needs to continue some type of momentum just to get into the chase.
Busch has not had the best success while racing at this 1.54 mile oval with only one win, and an average finish of 16th, in nine visits dating back to 2005.
Busch knows that he will have to find a way to shake whatever it is that keeps him from finishing strong, while helping him carry a positive attitude into Richmond next weekend which happens to be one of the stronger tracks that the team enjoys.
“I think my biggest concern is going to be Atlanta, just trying to get through Atlanta with a solid top-10 finish."
"If we can do that, I think we’ll be okay.”
Kyle Busch took the first big step by winning at Bristol to get himself closer to that ever elusive 12th spot.
But just how close is he, and will history put a stop to it?
"I hope this just isn't a fluke to get in the Chase," Busch said in Victory Lane at Bristol.
With this statement, you have to wonder if he was sending some type of subliminal message about how he feels his chances are of making the chase, or maybe he is preparing himself for the worse case scenario?
Or in reality, did this win come a little too late, or will it be just enough to get him in?