Even though Kyle Busch sits in fourth place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, 57 points behind five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and too far out to compete for the title, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot on the line for Busch Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
As the curtain falls on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has plenty to race for in Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400.
Busch’s best previous finish in the Sprint Cup standings was fifth in 2007, the year before he joined JGR. The statistics show that the 2013 Chase has been his best ever, with five top-five finishes and six top-10s in the first nine races of NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs.
For the season as a whole, Busch has 16 top-fives and 21 top-10s. Another top-five finish Sunday at Homestead would tie his career high of 17 top-fives in 2008 and best his career high of 21 top-10s, also set in 2008.
Homestead had never been kind to Busch until last year’s season finale. He dominated the 267-lap race in 2012, leading six times for a race-high 191 laps. While he had the dominant car, the Las Vegas native had to settle for a fourth-place finish after a long, green-flag run to finish the race had the M&M’s team come up short on fuel and foiled a seemingly certain win in the closing laps.
Busch’s 2012 result was his first top-five finish at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval, bettering by far his other seven finishes of 41st, 28th, 20th, 19th, eighth, 32nd and 23rd.
While mathematically eliminated in the championship hunt, Busch still can climb as high as second in the final standings as he is currently 29 points behind second-place JGR teammate Matt Kenseth, and 23 points behind third-place Kevin Harvick. Behind Busch lurks Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is six points behind Busch in fifth, and Jeff Gordon, who sits 23 points behind Busch in the sixth spot.
So, before the curtain falls on the 2013 Sprint Cup season at Homestead, Busch will reach for a Homestead win in order to top off the strongest Chase of his career, and he and the M&M’s team hope to take the momentum from their best Chase ever and build it into Busch’s first Sprint Cup title in 2014.