Busch got a raw deal in the Chase
Make no mistake: Kyle Busch can still win the Chase ... but the chances he will are so miniscule as to be negligible. The Shrub is currently down 240 points in the standings, which means he needs to win out starting this weekend at Kansas. Doing that would give him an average finish of 4.5 for the final 10 races, better than the 5.0 he estimated a few weeks ago would be enough to win the title. But is an eight-race winning streak likely to happen? Not by a long shot.
It's an unfortunate conclusion to what was shaping up as the most brilliant season NASCAR had seen in some time. Busch was dominant in all three series in which he raced in 2008, having broken the NASCAR record for most victories by a driver in a single season. It must have been especially painful for him to utter the following comment over his radio during last week's race at Dover (in which he finished dead last): "We're out of the title hunt. That's for sure. So we'll manage what we can."
Regardless of how you feel about Busch -- and it seems that just about everybody in NASCAR has an opinion about him -- this is a fate that's almost too cruel to bear. And it has me questioning the overall wisdom of the Chase. Certainly, the system produces the same results as playoffs in other sports. For example, look no further than the 2007 New England Patriots. But all those other sports have always had playoffs. Cup racing has traditionally been about points and the long season. To win it all, you had to be the best from beginning to end.
Not anymore. And forgive me, but I find the resurgence of Greg Biffle this fall -- as admirable as it is -- to be somewhat less exciting than the Giants' upset of the Pats in the Super Bowl last February. That was a championship game, and there's just no way that two and a half months of racing can duplicate that thrill. Perhaps that's why the men who started NASCAR eschewed the idea of a Chase in the first place (if they even considered it at all).
Since this column is called Racing Fan, I feel it's my responsibility to give a fan's perspective. And my honest feeling is that what is happening this year (and what happened to Jeff Gordon last season) is profoundly unfair. You may not like Kyle Busch, but that doesn't mean you have to like what is happening to him.
How To Drive
Mark Martin talks about racing at Kansas: "It's my style of track. I like the progressive banking, and it's a racetrack you can really race on. There's plenty of room, and if you can go through the corner with the right speed, it can be a fun day, for sure."
0: Number of times this season -- before his last-place finish at Dover -- that Kyle Busch had finished consecutive races outside of the top 30
210: Points in the Chase standings between Busch and leader Carl Edwards
26.5: Average finish for Busch in four career starts at Kansas, the lowest of any driver in the Chase
October 9, 2005: Mark Martin leads a race-high 139 laps en route to victory in the Banquet 400 at Kansas. It is Martin's last win on the Cup circuit to date.