Kyle Busch What a Difference Eight Weeks Makes

Just eight weeks ago Kyle Busch walked out of Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn wondering what he needed to do to catch a break. In a race delayed by rain several times, Busch spun and made hard contact with the outside SAFER barrier on the frontstretch after a rain shower fell just as he was passing another car on the inside. While the No. 18 team worked feverishly to make repairs, the rain eventually cut the race well short of its full distance and Busch left the Irish Hills with a 43rd-place finish.

However, in the seven races over a span of nine weeks since Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), and his entire team have been “Outrageously Dependable”, much like the motto of their primary sponsor this week.

After sitting out the first 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season because of injury, Busch and the Interstate Batteries team had 15 races to meet two requirements in order to make this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch needed to have at last one victory, but also needed to make it into the top-30 in driver points. Busch left Michigan in June with no wins and a deep hole in his quest to crack the top-30 as he sat 173 points behind the 30th-place driver.

But instead of giving up, Busch, crew chief Adam Stevens and the entire team rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Using the off-weekend following Michigan as a point to refocus, the team turned around their season in late-June by winning at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. The win started a streak of four wins in just five weeks, included three wins in-a-row starting at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, and continuing on at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and the prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The team nearly won its fourth race in-a-row two weeks ago at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway before the gas tank ran dry while leading on the final lap. The team marched on to the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last week, bringing home a runner-up finish that signified a victory of its own, as Busch had now made it within the top-30 in the driver standings with just four races remaining in NASCAR’s regular season. 

In just seven races, Busch has made up a whopping 179 points on 30th-place. Always looking for more, Busch hopes to put even more distance on the 30th-place mark with his green-and-white-striped Interstate Batteries Toyota heads back to the Irish Hills for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Pure Michigan 400.

Busch won the Pure Michigan 400 in August 2011, his first Sprint Cup triumph at the 2-mile oval. However, the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season and, while he scored a solid fourth-place finish on the surface in June 2013, he has had four finishes of 30th or worse in the other five races contested on the fresh pavement. This weekend, Busch looks to overcome that recent string of bad luck at Michigan as NASCAR brings back the high drag package similar to one used in his win three races ago at Indianapolis.

So, as Busch and the Interstate Batteries team head back to Michigan eight weeks later, things are looking much brighter than the last trip to the Irish Hills as his team looks to keep up its relentless streak with their fifth win and an even more solid footing within the Chase grid.

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Speedway Digest Staff

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