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“For the next five races, it’s win or bust, basically,” Busch said. “Finishing second, third or fourth ain’t going to get us anywhere.”

Busch said three wins would lock up a spot and figures Gordon is his main rival.

“If we pass him back in points, that would get us back in the Chase,” Busch said. “If he gets two and we’re in front of him in points with only one win, then he’s in and we’re out.”

Johnson, dethroned last year by Tony Stewart after winning five straight championships, is intent on starting a new streak.

“With the overall points being as close as they are, it’s tough now,” said Johnson, fourth in points but only eight behind Earnhardt, his teammate at Hendrick Motorsports. “I want to lead the championship going into the postseason. That’s my goal. But there will be some craziness during the race. We see that on road courses, period. If there’s a chance to take a risk, I think you’ll see a lot of it.”