His title hopes seemed gone in February when he suffered a broken right leg and fractured left foot after his Xfinity car hit an unprotected concrete wall during the season-opening race at Daytona.
Busch missed 11 Sprint Cup races but NASCAR granted him a waiver, making him eligible for the Chase provided he could climb into the top 30 in points by Richmond and win a race.
He took advantage of his second chance and now is one race away from his first Sprint Cup title.
Here’s how Busch got here:
REACHED FINAL: Via points
2016 VICTORIES: 4 (Sonoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire I, Indianapolis)
TOP 10s: 15 (in 24 starts)
AVG. FINISH IN CHASE: 10.8
LAPS LED IN CHASE: 157
AVG. FINISH AT 1.5-MILE TRACKS IN 2016: 8.3
LAST YEAR’S HOMESTEAD FINISH: 39th
OUTLOOK: Is the last Joe Gibbs Racing car left after the organization put all four cars in the Chase. Joe Gibbs Racing seeks its first Cup title since 2005. For a driver whose talent is unquestioned, he’s never been this close to a Cup title before.
QUOTE: “I feel like we’ve done some good things through this Chase. We’ve run up front, we’ve run strong. We also had a couple mishaps, but fortunately they weren’t big enough that they eliminated us. We were able to persevere through those things. Now going to Homestead for the first time with the opportunity to win a championship is really awesome. (Crew chief) Adam Stevens and these guys, they worked hard and they persevered all through the beginning part of the season when I was gone working with David Ragan and Erik Jones and Matt Crafton and those guys that drove my race car.’’
DUSTIN LONG SAYS: A Kyle Busch championship will rile some fans that a driver who missed nearly a third of the season could win the title, but then it would give folks something to talk about in the offseason. Busch would be deserving champion with the way he has rebounded from his injury, won multiple races and taken advantage of his opportunity. Don’t hate him if he does just that.
NATE RYAN SAYS: His return from missing 11 races because of injuries coincided with a newfound equipoise in his personal life, becoming a first-time father in May. Busch, 30, still has flashes of being the brash and petulant star who has been a lightning rod in a fan base that loves to hate some drivers. But he has reached peak maturity at the same time his team finally has delivered him to the brink of a Sprint Cup championship. Busch is too talented to end his career without a title, and this season’s circumstances seem fairy-tale felicitous.