For the second time in the four races that he’s been back in competition on the Sprint Cup circuit, Kyle Busch suffered a mishap that could prove costly to his hopes to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season.
Busch, who per a medical waiver from NASCAR must have one win and be ranked in the top 30 after the early September cutoff race at Richmond to make the Chase, lost control of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry and hit the outside retaining wall on Lap 53 in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
The incident occurred one lap after the race restarted following a third red flag stoppage due to rain. After wrecking, Busch said over his team radio that he saw raindrops on his windshield at the time of the wreck.
Busch immediately took his car to the garage for repairs in hopes of being able to return to the race to gain additional points. He returned on Lap 106 but still finished last of the 43-driver field.
Current Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick also said over his radio that the track was not completely dry at the time of the restart.
Busch barely missed hitting the rear of older brother Kurt’s car and crashed hard with the right front of his car into the outside retaining wall, resulting in heavy damage to his wheel and fender.
In his first four races after suffering a broken right leg and fractured left foot in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona, Busch has finished 11th (Charlotte), 36th at Dover and a season-best (thus far) 9th place finish last week at Pocono.
Busch, who won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at MIS, came into Sunday’s Sprint Cup event 39th in the standings. Lucky for him, he remains 39th after Michigan, but is a distant 173 points behind 30th-ranked Justin Allgaier — the place in the standings Busch has to be in or better after September’s race in Richmond (plus has to have a win by then) to make the Chase.
After Dover, crew chief Adam Stevens told NASCAR Talk, “When you only have 15 races to score all the points you need to score and get a win, you can’t squander them on the hook.
“I haven’t done the math to see where that will put us, but certainly one more of those, and that will be the end of that. You might get one mulligan in a 15-race stretch, and we just used it right there.”
Still, Busch isn’t out of it. Eleven races — in which he’ll hopefully earn a win or two — is still plenty of time. But another result like Sunday’s at Michigan and Stevens’ prediction could come true.