Loudon II: Kurt Busch - NASCAR spotlight

'Time to shine' says defending champion Kurt Busch DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2005) -- Since it was added to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule in 1993, New Hampshire International Speedway has played a major role in the series...

'Time to shine' says defending champion Kurt Busch

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2005) -- Since it was added to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule in 1993, New Hampshire International Speedway has played a major role in the series championship picture.

Never more so than last year, when Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Ford) kicked off his run to the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship with a victory at New Hampshire in September.

For the second year in a row, Busch appears to be building momentum at just the right time.

He's fresh off Saturday night's dominating victory at Richmond International Raceway -- his third win of the year -- and begins the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, which again starts at New Hampshire and is contested over the final 10 races of the season, in fifth place in the series standings. Busch has logged three top-10 finishes in his last four starts, including last week's Richmond win.

Busch also has excelled at NHIS, where he finished second to current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup leader Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) in July. He won both 2004 races.

The Chase begins with the top 10 in the series standings having their point totals reset in five-point increments. Leader Tony Stewart starts with 5,050; the second-place driver starts with 5,045, the third-place driver with 5,040, etc. This year, the two drivers tied for eighth place (Carl Edwards, No. 99 Scott's Ford and Matt Kenseth, No. 17 DeWALT Ford) both have 5,015 points, with the 10th-place driver having 5,005. The top 10 drivers are the only drivers eligible to win the championship.

Busch's victory last September showed the crucial nature of each race, with only 45 points separating the 10 title contenders in this critical first week.

"Each of the races [is] different and we hope that we start off on the right foot like we did last year," Busch said. "Our team has been able to do well with pit strategy and have a [chassis] setup that can maneuver high, low -- and pass cars. That's enabled us to win a couple of times and finish second in the last six races.

"Right now, it's a time for our team to shine. What we're doing to this year is something very special -- to hopefully backup our championship. It's fun to work with everybody right now and see everyone pulling together."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch