AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kurt Busch is back, but what are the chances he could be racing for a title?
One of the requirements to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup is that a driver start every race. NASCAR waived that requirement when it reinstated Busch this week following a three-race suspension. Busch still needs to be in the top 30 in points if he wins a race to be eligible for the Chase.
How hard will it be for Busch to be at least 30th in points by Richmond in September?
Not that hard.
Based on how many points the driver in 30th place had by the Chase cutoff each of the past four years, Busch likely needs to average a 25th-place finish in each of the 23 races remaining before the Chase to earn enough points to meet that requirement. Last year, Busch had an average finish of 17.9 in the final 23 races before the Chase began. That included his win at Martinsville and six finishes of 30th or worse.
Here’s a look at how many points the driver in 30th place had each of the past four years before the Chase began:
2014 – David Gilliland had 407 points
2013 – Dave Blaney had 396 points
2012 – Travis Kvapil had 434 points
2011 – David Gilliland had 446 points
Kurt Bush isn’t the only driver who could make the Chase with a waiver. Brian Vickers missed the first two races of this season as he recovered from heart surgery in December. NASCAR announced in January that it would waive the requirement that Vickers start every race to be Chase eligible.
Vickers made his season debut last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, finishing 15th. He enters today’s race 33rd in the points. Vickers likely needs to average a 26th-place finish in the remaining 23 races before the Chase to satisfy the top-30 requirement.
Vickers had an average finish of 17.4 in the final 23 races before the Chase last season.