At Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February, Busch suffered injuries that would sideline him for the first 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of the season. But not only did he come back, he came back better than ever. With hard work and fierce determination, the M&M’S Crispy driver won four races in just the 15 races since his return to the driver seat. In addition to those four wins, Busch posted six top-five and nine top-10 finishes that helped him not only impress in his return, but also lock his spot into this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
NASCAR’s 2015 Chase begins this weekend. It includes a series of elimination rounds throughout the 10-race playoff. Busch will aim to continue his magical comeback season and perhaps top it off with a championship as the Chase kicks off with Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The championship format, in its second year in existence, will break the 10-race Chase into four segments. The first segment, named the Challenger Round, features races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Dover (Del.) International Speedway. After Dover, four drivers are eliminated and 12 drivers remain for the next round, named the Contender Round. The three races of the Contender Round will be run at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. After Talladega, just eight drivers will remain for the next round, named the Eliminator Round and featuring races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and Phoenix International Raceway. After Phoenix, just four drivers will remain for the following week’s championship race and season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. At Homestead, the goal is simple – the highest finisher among the final four drivers will be the 2015 Sprint Cup champion.
In order for Busch to get to the championship four at Homestead, he’ll likely have to find a way to beat three other drivers with the same equipment as JGR as a whole has also had a strong season. All four JGR drivers – Busch, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin – have combined to win 11 races during the 26-race Sprint Cup regular season.
Along with setting his sights on advancing throughout the Chase, Busch is looking to rekindle the magic he showed at Chicagoland in 2008, when he captured a dramatic Sprint Cup win at the track just southwest of Chicago.
When a late-race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, Busch lined up behind now six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. On the final restart, the Las Vegas native made a bold and surprising move to the outside in turns one and two, passing Johnson and holding him off to bring home the win. He’s gotten off to a strong start in the Chase each of the last three years at Chicagoland, posting top-10 finishes each time.
So as Busch looks ahead to the kickoff of this year’s Chase at Chicagoland, Busch and his M&M’S Crispy team are as determined as they’ve ever been. With all they’ve been through as a group, they would like nothing more than to finish the job at hand and help bring Busch home his first Sprint Cup Series championship.