- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. | Kyle Busch’s dream season isn’t likely to turn into a nightmare anytime soon. He will start from the pole Sunday in the Centurion Boats at the Glen, poised to make NASCAR history and gain a little peace of mind.

Busch has won 15 races in NASCAR’s top three series this season - seven in Sprint Cup, six in Nationwide and two in trucks - and two came on road courses. He won the Nationwide race in Mexico in April and the Cup race at Sonoma in June. No driver in NASCAR history has won three road races in one season, and only Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon have swept both Cup events in the same year.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work from everyone on the team,” said Busch, starting up front in his fourth race here because qualifying was rained out and the field was set by points. “That win at Sonoma wasn’t easy at all. Once the green flag falls, you’ve just got to stick to your strategy and hope everything works out in your favor.”

A victory by Busch also would clinch his spot in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, which begins after the next five races.

“You go out there and run as hard as you can to see what you’ve got,” said Busch, who had to pit for fuel with a lap to go last week at Pocono and finished 36th. “Whether we win or whether we run out of gas just doesn’t matter at this point. We’ve got to win.”

The top 12 drivers in the standings after 26 races will race for the Sprint Cup, and the points for every driver will be reset at 5,000. But each win counts for an extra 10 points once the Chase begins. With his seven wins, Busch has 70 bonus points, which gives him a 40-point cushion over Carl Edwards.

None of the contenders wants to see that cushion grow before the first race of the Chase at New Hampshire in mid-September.

“It’s important, especially for the first two or three races [of the Chase] when everybody is so worried about the points and where you’re at,” said Jimmie Johnson, who had six wins when last year’s Chase began and won four more times to win his second straight Cup title. “It really buys you some sleep and peace of mind at the start of the Chase.”

Only the top 12 drivers in points qualify for the Chase, and seventh through 14th are so close the bottom of the field could change every week between now and the Sept. 6 race at Richmond, the final race before the Chase.

Denny Hamlin is among those in the middle of it. He’s 10th in points, 35 points ahead of 12th-place Clint Bowyer, whose Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick sits in between, eight points ahead of Bowyer. Matt Kenseth is 13th, 11 points behind Bowyer, while David Ragan, in 14th, is only 46 points behind Bowyer.

“We’ve just got to get back on track,” said Hamlin, who has three finishes outside the top 20 in the past four races. “We’ve got to get at least two weeks in a row to get good finishes to solidify our place.”

Last year’s race at Watkins Glen featured eight cautions and a 28-minute red flag with less than 20 laps left caused by a wreck featuring Juan Pablo Montoya and Harvick while both were running in the top 10. They ended up in a shoving match on the track while the race was stopped, and Harvick finished 36th, three spots ahead of Montoya.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide