It’s a general belief that, in any sport, consistency is the key to success. It is also one of the most difficult things to master as elements constantly develop and evolve, whether on the football field, the basketball court, the baseball diamond or the racetrack. Teams constantly strive to be the best and work tirelessly to find a competitive advantage that will give them what they need to be at the top of their game.
Kurt Busch and his No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) have proven to be one of the most consistent when it comes to racing at mile-and-a-half racetracks. Busch is the only driver to have scored top-10 finishes in the last 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races held at such facilities, dating back to May 9, 2015 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
From Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the site of this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, from Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth to Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch has proven to be a model of consistency with an average start of ninth and an average finish of 6.8. But he’s not quick to take all the credit for the team’s success. He’s quick to point out that crew chief Tony Gibson, lead engineer Johnny Klausmeier and everyone on the No. 41 team works hard to bring relatively fail-safe, fast racecars to the track each week.
Busch enters Charlotte ranked third in Sprint Cup points, riding a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes. While earning another top-10 finish isn’t his ultimate goal this weekend, scoring his first win of the 2016 season and his second in the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, would add a huge mark to the tally. And, more importantly, it would also virtually lock Busch and his No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation team into the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With the 16-driver Sprint Cup championship format, scoring a win virtually guarantees a driver and his team a berth in the Chase, provided they are among the top-30 in driver points.
So, if you’re looking to make a bet on Sunday night’s race, it would be difficult to look past Busch to finish in the top-10. With Charlotte being the 13th of 26 regular-season races this year, Busch knows he has time to score that first win of the season. He has shown the focus needed to contend for races early on and, now, it’s seemingly only a matter of time before he breaks through and secures his spot in the 10-race Chase.