NASCAR: Kyle Busch Must Take Care of These 5 Things to Win the Chase
Kyle Busch is the points leader heading into the Chase, but will he be able to turn that advantage into his first career Sprint Cup championship?
On Tuesday afternoon I had the opportunity to participate in a teleconference with Kyle Busch. Busch fielded a number of questions from media members. Many of the questions related to the Chase, which kicks off this Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.
Among the topics Busch discussed were the challenges and opportunities that the Chase presents and the mindset required in order to win the title.
Busch has never finished higher than fifth in the final season standings, though this is the second time he is the top seed going in to NASCAR's version of a postseason.
Here are five critical issues Busch discussed heading into the Chase.
Pressures of the Chase
"Certainly there is [added pressure in the Chase]. When you go through the regular season, you're striving to make the Chase. When you feel like you're in a good position, all the stress is off you. Whether you're number one in points or whether you have the most wins in the season, you're a lock for the Chase, it certainly makes your life a lot easier.
"Guys like Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, those guys that were further back, that didn't have wins, fighting for their way to be in the Chase, it can certainly be stressful for the first 26 races. Then it's almost a relief once you get to the...Chase.
"For us, though, there's going to be an added pressure. But right now we just want to keep going with how we've been doing all year, keep the consistency going, hopefully run strong at these first few Chase races to get a good foundation built up and see who the players are going to be, then race a little harder when we get down to the final four or five."
Patience and Perspective
"If you do a bad race, you can't put pressure on yourself to make it back up right there. If you have a bad race, let's say you're leading the points going into Phoenix, you have a bad race, it knocks you back to eighth, eliminates your chance for a championship, there's nothing you can do about it. It certainly stinks. You're not going to change anything. It's over and done with. You're going to be mad and dwell on it and say, 'There goes another year, another waster opportunity.'
"But certainly there's value to making sure you're consistent in trying to do what you can do, protect yourself. If you make some stupid mistake or dumb mistake, you can only put it back on yourself. There's an added pressure there that certainly one race can kill it. But you've got to go along if it happens it happens."
"Talladega...[is] such a wild card race that anything can happen there. For us it's a place that we've got to win at. It's such a luck track.
"For me, it's an opportunity to go out there and try to make the most of the event. But your fortunes are riding on so many people's shoulders that it's not quite what you do during that race, it's what everybody else does during that race.
"Talladega is a place where we'd like to get in and get out with a decent finish. I think something in the top 15 would be all right, top 10 would be great. We certainly think we can go in there and win. There's certainly no sense in saying we can't. There's a lot of things that have to factor in that go right."
Chase Domination by the No. 48
"Yeah, certainly [Johnson's dominance is] great for our sport, but it could also be hurtful to our sport, too. Jimmie has been really good at what he's been able to accomplish obviously. He's one of the best out there, him and Chad both. They're really good at what they do.
"There's no slouching. You can't take anything away from them being able to win five championships in a row. Nobody has been able to step up and beat them or they've eliminated themselves.
"We have to make sure we can make it all the way to Homestead with a chance, give it our all, try to do the best we can there and come out with a victory."
Attitude...Its Rowdy Time!
"I think you just approach the Chase as you have the beginning of the year. Everybody's kind of calm and relaxed, ready to go, ready to get started with the year when we get to Daytona. The media day that we have down there is always kind of easy, stuff like that.
"There's no reason to treat this any differently. Certainly you want to come out with an even head, a clean head, a clean slate, per se, to be able to go out there and race for a championship because you know there are these 10 weeks that will make it or break it. You put too much pressure on yourself, you start making mistakes. You think too much, you start making mistakes.
"We've played this year really well, have been consistent. So you do that all off of your talent and your feel. To me it's just trying to keep it the same. Don't overthink it."
Question: You are known for your driving style and your personality. You've been called a lot of nicknames over the years. Are there any that you particularly like or any that you can't stand?
"Rowdy seems to be one [nickname] that kind of fits. We want to make sure that that one keeps up with what we're trying to do throughout this Chase, making sure we can bring home a championship."