For the first time this season, Kyle Busch finished where he ran throughout the race, helping his bid to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup after missing the season’s first 11 races.
Busch placed ninth Sunday at Pocono Raceway – his average running position was 9.6 in the 400-mile race.
“We didn’t start the race with what we needed,’’ Busch said. “But (crew chief Adam Stevens) made some good adjustments to get us better. Track position was big, so Adam also made a good call to take two tires and get us some track position and we were able to hold onto it for a while. Those last two cautions didn’t help us, we just couldn’t get going on those last couple of restarts. We’ll take it and move on to Michigan.”
In his first two races back after being injured at Feb. 21 at Daytona, Busch ran well but the finish didn’t match the effort. Busch had an average running position of 6.6 at Dover but finished 36th after he was involved in an accident with a lapped car. In the Coca-Cola 600, Busch had an average running position of 7.2 but placed 11th when four cars gambled on fuel milage and finished ahead of him.
Busch needs to win at least one race among the 12 left before the Chase field is set and be in the top 30 in points at that point. (NASCAR waived the requirement that he start every race after he was injured in a crash during the Xfinity race at Daytona.)
Here’s where Busch stands and what he needs to do to make the Chase:
- Busch is 151 points behind Trevor Bayne, who is 30th in the points.
- Bayne is on pace to score 423 points by the time the Chase field is set after the Richmond race in September.
- Busch needs to win at least one of the remaining 12 races.
- Because Busch needs a win (worth at least 47 points), he must score 299 points in the other 11 races before the Chase to reach Bayne’s projected total. Busch essentially needs to average a 17th-place finish (an average of 27.1 points per race) in those 11 other races.