As the curtain falls on the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch is as focused as ever to finish strong.
Despite not being eligible to win the Sprint Cup championship, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has plenty to race for in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400.
The statistics show that the 2014 Chase has been strong for Busch and the M&M’s team overall, with three top-five finishes and six top-10s in the first nine races of NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs. However, accidents at both Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last month and at Phoenix International Raceway last weekend have him sitting eighth in the standings heading into this weekend. For the season as a whole, Busch has nine top-fives and 15 top-10s, which includes a win in March at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Homestead, site of this weekend’s finale, had never been kind to Busch until two seasons ago. He dominated the 267-lap race in 2012, leading six times for a race-high 191 laps. But 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 the checkered flag saw the M&M’s team come up short on fuel and foiled a seemingly certain win in the closing laps. He backed up his strong run from 2012 with an eighth-place finish last year. Busch’s 2012 result was his first top-five at the 1.5-mile South Florida oval, bettering by far his seven previous finishes of 41st, 28th, 20th, 19th, eighth, 32nd and 23rd.
While mathematically eliminated from the championship hunt, Busch sits eighth in the standings, 40 points behind fifth-place Brad Keselowski. Busch also sits 16 points behind his seventh-place JGR teammate Matt Kenseth. The Las Vegas native can climb as high as fifth in the standings this weekend.
So, before the curtain falls on the 2014 Sprint Cup season at Homestead, Busch will reach for a Homestead win in order to top off another strong Chase. From there, he and the M&M’s team hope to take some momentum from Homestead to build upon for another Sprint Cup title run in 2015.