Last week at the end of Stage 2 of the Brickyard 400, Kyle Busch claimed the regular-season championship and earned 15 playoff bonus points. Now, he has his sights set on winning the NASCAR Cup.
The key to his success is going to be in regaining lost momentum from the last few weeks, adjusting quickly to new track conditions and not squandering the bonus points that he so meticulously accumulated in the first 26 weeks.
“The last three weeks have been kind of quiet for the Big 3,” Busch said in an interview with NASCAR America on Tuesday. “We’ve obviously seen Brad (Keselowski) being able to pick up two wins right in a row with Darlington and Indy. He was the fourth best last year – being able to go to Homestead as the fourth driver in – so we know everybody is going to be gunning for the Big 3 and then Brad.”
With 50 bonus points to his credit – 15 more than third-place Martin Truex Jr. and 31 more than Keselowski – many experts believe that getting to Homestead with a chance at winning the Cup is a given.
“The more bonus points you have, the better it’s going to be for your success going down into these playoffs and … having those bonus points reset with you through each round is awesome,” Busch said.
Busch faces new challenges in the 2018 playoffs.
The first round is made up entirely of new venues that have not been on the playoff schedule before. One track – the Charlotte Roval – has never been raced in Cup competition. The Roval is now the only active Cup track on which Busch does not have a victory in the senior series.
Entering that road course race with his cushion of points gives Busch an opportunity to gamble for the win.
“I like going to the road courses,” Busch said “So I feel like the road course could be a really cool thing for us. We’ve been fast at road courses before – at Sonoma and Watkins Glen included. This is a new road course, so it’s going to be certainly a challenge – a bigger challenge than what many are ready for.”
The challenge actually begins this week at Las Vegas. While Busch has had success there in the past with a 2009 victory and a second-place finish this spring, that won’t make any difference this time around. With temperatures forecast in the triple digits, track conditions are going to be unlike any faced before.
“My wife was showing me the temperatures and projections about what it was going to be this weekend and I was like ‘Oh, it’s going to be hot and slick.’ “ Busch said. “We’ve been out there before when it’s been warm in March, but nothing like 100 degrees. … It’s going to be a warm one and a slick one and I’m sure people are going to be moving all over that racetrack trying to find grip.
“The best way to go is throwing out any notes you had from March.”
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