Busch earned his Chase spot with a victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Almirola isn’t the only driver with secret weapons for the Chase. Kyle Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates also will have some new pieces for the playoffs.
“Our car for Chicago is brand new—it has not seen the race track yet,” Busch said on Thursday. “Fortunately, we were able to do that because we built it, tunneled it (tested in the wind tunnel) and everything, then put it on jack stands to wait for the Chase, because we didn’t need to use it to get in.
“We had that luxury. Now that we have a couple sitting there on jack stands ready to go, we just take the covers off and put engines in them and get ready to go and see how they run. This will be our first test here this weekend.”
Busch earned his Chase spot with a victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, in late March, but in the last six events, he has finished outside the top 35 four times.
Busch hopes his new equipment will help level the playing field between the JGR teams and the favorites for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
“We know our level isn’t high enough, and we know there’s room to grow because of what we’re getting beat by each and every single week,” Busch said. “The 2 (Brad Keselowski), the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 24 (Jeff Gordon) -- they are your favorites, so how much more can they pick up?
“I don’t know. They might have been running at 100 percent already, and if we can just get to their level and compete with them, then a driver may prevail a little more, and you can see some guys doing some good things behind the steering wheel and getting the job done there.”
Busch was true to his word on Friday afternoon. He led opening Sprint Cup practice with a lap at 191.442 mph, more than two miles-per-hour faster than Joey Logano’s 2013 track qualifying record of 189.414 mph.
Reid Spencer - NASCAR Wire Service