Can another Phoenix win change Kyle Busch's playoff narrative?
There are many reasons why a win at ISM Raceway near Phoenix would help Kyle Busch this weekend but perhaps none better than simply to show that he’s still a player for the series championship.
Statistically, Kyle Busch has had another strong season with four victories and 15 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in 33 races.
Busch, however, hasn’t won since June at Pocono. He is still ranked third in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings although he has four finishes of 14th or worse in eight playoff races.
Busch holds a two-point advantage over Joey Logano over the remaining six playoff drivers. If one of the six doesn’t win at Phoenix, the final two positions at Homestead will be filled based on points.
“We all know one guy is going to move through on points and we have to do whatever we have to do in order to be that guy,’’ said Busch.
“If we can obviously go to Phoenix and have a strong run and be able to go out there and win that will put us through, as well.”
While Busch has not been as competitive for wins the second half of the season, Phoenix does offer him an excellent chance at redemption.
One of Busch’s four wins this season came in the spring race at the track, when he led 177 of the 312 laps. He is also the only driver to win at Phoenix in the two races since the facility completed a major renovation and re-configuration last year.
“I really like Phoenix and we won there in the spring but that was nine months ago,” Busch said. So, when we go back there, a lot’s going on in the development of everybody’s cars and things like that for this season.
“The last couple times we’ve been to Phoenix, we’ve run pretty good. Hopefully, that can translate to this time around again. I’m optimistic about it. I think we can do OK.
“It’s just a matter of running another clean race and not making mistakes. We look forward to the challenge.”
Busch has seven top-five finishes in his last eight races at Phoenix, including two consecutive victories.
A strong finish would likely send him to Homestead to compete for the series championship.
A win, however, would not only lock him in the Championship 4 but it could also change the narrative of what has been so far a disappointing playoffs.
A sweep of Phoenix this season could also remind his fans – and perhaps even his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team – that for much of this season they have been a championship favorite.
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