Busch Determined To Get Back Into Top-12 In Points BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 12, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is quick to admit that getting back into the top-12 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points and becoming "Chase-eligible" will not be...
Busch Determined To Get Back Into Top-12 In Points
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 12, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch is quick to admit that getting back into the top-12 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points and becoming "Chase-eligible" will not be an easy task. Yet, the 2004 NASCAR champion is equally fast to say his team is determined to do just that.
"Entering this weekend's race at Michigan, we have 12 races to get the job done," said Busch, currently 16th in the standings, 132 points behind 12th-place Mark Martin. "It'll be a hard climb, but we're determined to do it. We'll be out there digging for every possible point between now and then.
"The thing about it is that it's a pretty complex situation (with the points) and we're taking a realistic approach. It's not like we're out there trying to catch one driver and team. It's a reality check because there are about 10 drivers in the mix who will be battling it out to get one of those final spots in the Chase.
"What has us optimistic that we can pull it off is the fact that we have so many of our strongest tracks that we'll be racing on between now and the cut-off race at Richmond in September. Tracks like Michigan, Sonoma [Infineon Raceway], Daytona, Watkins Glen, Bristol, and others where we think we can make major gains -- those tracks and races give us tremendous hope that we can be there where we need to be come September."
It would be hard to find anybody in the NASCAR garage who has a better grasp of the task at hand than Miller Lite Dodge crew chief Troy Raker.
"Kurt is certainly correct when he called our situation complex," said Raker, who has his master's degree in engineering from Penn State University. "You can't just look at it as simply gaining spots up the points ladder. The major thing you have to factor into the equation is our deficit to 12th and narrowing that down.
"A great example of that can be found by looking back at Sunday's Pocono race. After the 100-point penalty [for the Dover infraction] was assessed, we fell to a tie for 17th and we were 88 points behind [Martin] Truex [Jr.), who moved up to 12th. We finished 16th at Pocono on Sunday and that moved us up to 16th in the standings.
"I've read several stories that stated Kurt advanced a spot in the standings and that's true from a superficial standpoint. But we can't look at it that way. We have to look deeper. The fact of the matter is that we really lost ground on our goal on Sunday.
"Truex finished third and Mark Martin finished seventh. Those were a couple of the guys that we needed to finish ahead of. The bottom line is that we entered Sunday's race 88 points out of 12th and now we're 132 points out of 12th. It can be a little confusing, but you always have to keep in mind the particular cars and drivers you are battling with for those spots up the points ladder.
"It's a precarious position that we're in. We all want Kurt to maintain his focus on looking ahead, but I'm attempting to maintain a total big picture perspective. That includes watching our back, too. The fact is that we have only an 87-point buffer back to Elliott Sadler in 20th spot.
"We have to go to each of the next 12 races looking for top-fives, top-10s and leading laps for the bonus points. We're going to several tracks where Kurt seems to always perform well. We have to view each race as a perfect opportunity to close the gap and that's what we plan on doing."
This weekend's NEXTEL Cup action at Michigan International Speedway begins with practice on Friday from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday's 3:10 p.m. single round of qualifying will allocate all starting spots for Sunday's battle.