When Kyle Busch sits back at the end of the year and reminisces about his season, there's a chance he might look at July 5-6 as the days he saved it.
With a win in tow from Sonoma -- arguably the hardest task in his quest to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup -- Busch scraped the wall on Lap 17 at Daytona late Sunday night and had to pit for repairs, falling two laps behind into 38th. A finish that low could have doomed him, but Busch battled back in the wee hours Monday morning to an 17th-place showing.
"I'm just really proud of how hard all the guys worked to get us back to where we were," said Busch, who roughly needs to average a 13th-place finish in the remaining nine races of the regular season to reach the top 30. "Our night could have been much worse than it was as far as the points are concerned."
Busch will continue his march toward the top 30 -- and the subsequent Chase berth -- in Saturday's Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
A Kentucky visit will surely help Busch's Chase chances. He boasts more top-five finishes at the 1.5-mile track than any other driver (three). He won the inaugural race there in 2011.
"I love Kentucky," Busch said. "It was special there in 2011, when we were able to win the first Cup race there. I look forward to going back there every year.
It's a pretty challenging racetrack. It's a place that lends itself to different kinds of setups because it's so rough."
Adding to the challenge at Kentucky this weekend is a new track-specific aerodynamic rules package implemented by NASCAR designed to lower downforce and increase passing. It is the first of five track-specific rules packages drivers will run under this season.
The other rules package updates will occur at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 26), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 16), Darlington Raceway (Sept. 6) and Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 12).
"I think all of this shows that we remain committed to putting the best racing on in the world," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "And each of these, including Kentucky this weekend, I think shows everybody that we've got several components that make up a rules package each week, and they can certainly be adjusted, and we will do that if we can do something that we believe will improve the racing for the fans at each track."
Busch proved he could quickly adjust to Kentucky by winning at the 1.5-mile track in the first Sprint Cup race held there, so he should be up to the challenge of adapting to the new aerodynamic package.
He described the feeling of knowing he'll always be the inaugural Kentucky winner as "cool."
"There aren't many opportunities these days to go to a new venue, so for us, being able to win the first race there was extra special," he said.