So it’s only appropriate as the Sprint Cup competitors head to the third race in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs – Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway – that Busch will have the Outrageously Dependable green-and-white-striped colors of Interstate Batteries along for the ride on his No. 18 Toyota.
There isn’t likely a team in the garage that has faced more adversity this season than the Interstate Batteries team. After losing Busch for the first 11 races after being injured on opening weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the No. 18 team rallied back in several ways. First, it brought home four wins over the summer months, along with rallying to make it into the top-30 in the driver standings, solidifying Busch’s spot in the 2015 Chase field.
After a solid ninth-place finish in the Chase opener two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, the next bit of adversity struck last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. With Busch running in the top-10, a right-front-tire issue sent Busch into the outside SAFER barrier and eventually to the garage for repairs. The team returned to the track as quickly as possible, but the result was a disappointing 37th-place finish.
There is some good news on the horizon as the Interstate Batteries team heads to the first cutoff race of this year’s Chase. Busch will head to Dover – statistically one of his better tracks – in hopes of scoring a win, and thus an automatic bid to the Contender Round as one of the final 12 drivers left in NASCAR’s playoffs. However, Busch sits only one point out of the 12th and final transfer spot, so even a solid finish could vault him into the Contender Round that begins next weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
The Dover stats for Busch and his Interstate Batteries team are impressive – two Sprint Cup wins, five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins. Busch has led 1,018 laps in his previous 21 Sprint Cup starts at Dover, an average of almost 50 per race.
Busch will look to finish what he started in his first trip this season to the “Monster Mile” back in June, when he had a strong run in just his second event back from injury. He ran third with 30 laps to go before an unfortunate incident with a lapped car caused an accident that ended his race early.
So, as Busch and his Interstate Batteries team try to advance to the next round of the Chase, they look to build on recent strong runs at Dover in hopes of closing the deal with their green-and-white-striped Interstate Batteries Camry Sunday afternoon on the Delmarva Peninsula. Busch and the No. 18 team will need to continue to earn their stripes in order to be a “contender” in the 2015 Chase following Sunday’s grueling 400-miler.