The New England Patriots were down 28-3 in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Patriots won 34-28 in overtime.
The Boston Red Sox were down three games to zero to the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. They made history by winning four in a row and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
So, it’s not how you start in the playoffs, it’s how you finish.
And that’s what Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is thinking as he looks toward this week’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
Busch was in the top-10 for much of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois but, on lap 190, he felt a vibration and was forced to pit under green on lap 200. Unfortunately for Busch, he was caught speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty.
That meant Busch finished a disappointing 19th in the race, two laps down, and now finds himself in 13th place with two races remaining until the playoff field is trimmed to 12 drivers.
Fear not for Busch, however. He’s had much success at New Hampshire.
The 39-year-old has three wins, two second-place finishes, seven top-threes, eight top-fives, 14 top-10s and has led a total of 541 laps in his 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at New Hampshire.
Busch’s three NASCAR Cup Series wins at New Hampshire ties him for the most among active drivers, joining Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.
And while every win is cherished, those first two New Hampshire triumphs carry significant importance.
Busch swept the NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire in 2004. He overcame a 32nd-place qualifying effort in the July race to lead twice for 110 laps en route to his first Cup Series win at the track. His second victory came that September, when he led three times for a race-high 155 laps. Busch went on to win the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
When Busch won at New Hampshire in September 2004, he became the first driver to win a race in NASCAR’s playoffs. The victory placed Busch in a tie with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for first place in the championship standings. Busch also became one of only two drivers to have swept the slate of NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire. The other is Johnson, who swept the pair of Cup Series races in 2003.
Busch’s most recent victory at New Hampshire came in July 2008, when he won the rain-shortened Cup Series race. He only led 10 laps, but they were the final 10 of the 284 contested.
With the opening round of the NASCAR playoffs one-third complete, Busch is hoping he can find some New England luck and skill to advance to round two.