Kyle Busch eligible to make Chase for the Sprint Cup but must be ranked in top 30

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NASCAR waived its requirement for Kyle Busch to start every race to be eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but Busch’s return still faces an uphill climb.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver still must be ranked in the top 30 in the points standings by the end of the 26th race in order to qualify for the Chase with a victory.

Busch has missed all 11 races this season after suffering a broken right leg and fractured left foot in a Feb. 22 crash during the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Tony Stewart currently is ranked 30th in the standings with 179 points.

Over the past four years, the average total for the 30th-ranked driver after 26 race was 420.8 points. That means Busch will need to average roughly a 15th-place finish to reach that total.

But given that Busch would need a victory (which would mean at least 47 points) in one of the races, he could average 26 points in the other 14 races (or an 18th-place finish).

NASCAR announced its decision to grant the waiver in a release Wednesday morning, a day after Busch announced he would return this weekend for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“On behalf of everyone at NASCAR, it’s great to have Kyle Busch back racing,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said. “Our decision to grant Kyle a waiver that allows him to continue running for a championship is one we discussed extensively. The spirit of the rule never was designed to punish drivers who are unable to compete due to extenuating circumstances such as recovering from a racing accident.

“We wish Kyle the best of luck in the balance of the season, and look forward to his return to the car this week for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”

During a Tuesday conference call with the news media, Busch addressed the prospect of a waiver, saying he was encouraged he’d obtain it from NASCAR.

“I’d love to race for a win and a spot in the Chase,” he said. “I think the top 30 rule makes a lot of sense.”