Busch led 155 laps and drove away from Matt Kenseth to win the first race in the first-ever Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship Sept. 19, 2004 at New Hampshire. The historic victory would be the first of six top-five and nine top-10 finishes the Las Vegas native would rack up during that year’s 10-race Chase. Busch hopes history will repeat itself this weekend and that, once again, the “Magic Mile” lives up to its moniker in helping him get one step closer to being crowned the Sprint Cup champion for a second time.
His team’s consistency during that 10-race stretch in 2004 played an important role as other drivers were able to score more victories than Busch but were unable to better him in the standings. Busch believes that kind of consistency, which is also a strength of the No. 41 team this season, could lead him to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Busch’s average finish of 10.6 this season is the best of his 16-year Sprint Cup career.
In 29 Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire, Busch has three victories – July and September 2004, and June 2008 – seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. Past performances at the track, including his 12th top-10 there this past July, leave Busch optimistic headed into the weekend.
The Haas Automation team opened the Chase with a third-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois last weekend. Busch and his Tony Gibson-led team advanced two positions to fifth in the standings, just four points behind Chase leader Kenseth.
With race winners from each round of the Chase automatically advancing to the next round, Busch would like nothing more than to pick up his third win of the season this weekend at New Hampshire and head to the final race of the Challenger Round without worry. But, with the rest of the teams advancing by total points accumulated, he knows another solid finish would also go a long way toward ensuring his advancement into the Contender Round.