Kurt Busch 'not leaving anything on the table' in 2021

If one thing has defined Kurt Busch’s career in the NASCAR Cup Series, it’s that he’s always found a way.

Kurt Busch 'not leaving anything on the table' in 2021
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In the first season of the playoff format in the Cup Series in 2004, Busch lost a wheel while entering pit road early in the race, fell to 28th but found a way to finish fifth and still win his first series championship.

He found a way to bounce back from losing jobs with two top organizations in Roush Fenway Racing and Team Penske during his career and still land other rides with talented teams.

He did it again Sunday.

Busch, needing a win to cement his position in the 2021 playoffs and to pad his resume as he remains without a firm ride for next season, outdueled his younger brother, Kyle, over the final 25 laps to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Two months ago, Busch’s playoff hopes looked dire but in recent weeks the entire Chip Ganassi Racing organization seemed to have found speed and the performance to match it.

And there’s been no slow down despite owner Chip Ganassi’s announcement on June 30 that he would be selling his NASCAR operation to Justin Marks, owner of Trackhouse Racing, at season’s end.

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“This shows that I can win at any age at any time, and it takes a team, though, and this team with the way our back was against the wall probably about 10 weeks ago, we were 100 points below the (playoff) cut line, and I rallied everybody the best that I could,” Busch, 42, said.

“I even pulled in a two-star general to come in and speak to my No. 1 car guys. We put together this spirited effort of, we have to be as smart as we can with points. We have to race for points each week.

“We might be scraping to try to get 11th at the end, but as long as we bank the Stage 1 and Stage 2 points, we’re going to claw our way back into this.”

Busch has now won at least one race a season for eight straight years and has done so in 18 of his 21 seasons as a fulltime Cup driver.

Counting Sunday, for the fourth straight season, Busch has won either late in the regular season to help clinch a playoff spot or early in the playoffs to continue a title run.

Busch seems to have a penchant for good timing – and that included the unexpected pairing with Ganassi in what is turning out to be late in both of their respective NASCAR careers.

“The combination of meeting up with Chip at this point in my career has been fantastic. His attitude, his demeanor, his warm heart, which he’ll never tell you that he has, he greeted me with open arms and saw that I still wanted to push hard to win,” Busch said.

“I saw that he wanted to do it, and he’s a guy that just gives you that old-school feel of ‘We’re not leaving anything on the table. We’re going to go after it each and every week.’

“Chip loves winners and he makes you push harder each day. Even if you have a bad finish, that next Monday it seems like he’s already back at the shop directing traffic. And he’s engaged. He’s a very engaged owner, and it’s been fun to race with him.”

With the Ganassi organization running the best it has all year, Sunday’s win suddenly opens up a lot of potential for Busch in the upcoming playoffs. Not to mention he now has the ability improve his playoff position in the final five regular season races.

“I couldn’t be more proud of (crew chief) Matt McCall and all these guys at Ganassi, especially with the news of things changing,” Busch said.

“This is where you just put the blinders on and you try to – I try to coach them through this the best that I can to be my best leader that I can be.”

And find a way.

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