Kyle Busch is 87 points from pay dirt.
That’s how many points Busch is out of 30th in the drivers standings with eight races before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway. After missing 11 races due to injuries sustained in the February Xfinity Series race at Daytona, Busch needed to win at least once but also be in the top 30 in points by the regular-season finale to earn a Chase berth.
However, Busch says he’s not devoting much brain power to worrying about the deficit following his second win in three weeks.
“Obviously it’s on our mind, but I’m not thinking about the points gained when we win,” Busch said. “When we win, I know we did all we can do.”
Busch did that, winning the Quaker State 400 while also leading the most laps a week after he finishing 17th in the Coke Zero 400 following contact with the wall early in the race. Busch admitted points were on his mind then.
“My first thoughts were ‘well, this isn’t going to be easy,’ to just continue to fight hard and to salvage the best finish that we possible could,” Busch said. “I think I even could have finished about eighth.”
Busch moved up two spots in the standings with the win. He is projected to need an average finish of 17th over the next eight races.
“I didn’t make up all the points I wanted to last week but certainly finishes like this, runs like this, they sure do help,” Busch said. “Thankfully we’re going to a lot of races here now that are more driver induced than our circumstances induced and so it’s going to be on my hands and (crew chief) Adam Stevens and this whole race team’s hands.”
Busch and Stevens head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Busch has averaged a finish of 14th. He has finished second in three of the last four races at the “Miracle Mile.”
Stevens said it’s still a hard road to the Chase, and that the unexpected still could derail the team.
“You can break apart, that’s part of our sport,” Stevens said. “You can have a freak shower on the fourth turn at Michigan and cost you a whole race. Think about all the things that can happen in a race like tonight, how many times you just miss hitting somebody or just miss a wreck.”
But Stevens had to admit the outlook is better.
“It’s looking better,” he said. “I tell Kyle we only need three more of these (races), we’ll be OK.”