Car number: 5 • Manufacturer: Chevy • Sponsor: Kellogg's/Carquest
Owner: Rick Hendrick
• Team: Hendrick Motorsports
• Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin Kyle Busch begins his third season in the Nextel Cup Series with three career wins under his belt to go along with a spot in the 2006 Chase for the Cup. He is in top-notch equipment at Hendrick Motorsports with solid teammates and a crew chief with whom he seems to have great chemistry.
So why do we have him ranked 11th, one spot out of the Chase? It's not due to a lack of talent, that's for sure. It centers more around the fact that while he was racing hard and his team was giving him its best trying to win a title, other teams were catching up. The rest of the field uses the 10 Chase races as R&D sessions. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart - those who were nipping at the heels of last season's Chasers - may leapfrog him this year.
Young Shrub has come light years in just one short season. Impatience and recklessness seem to have given way to a more calculating driver. Don't get us wrong - they still call him Rowdy; it just appears that under the tutelage of Rick Hendrick, he has reined in the on-track aggression a bit.
Busch may initially experience some issues with the Car of Tomorrow. He falls under the category of a young driver who has not dealt with an 800 horsepower, 3,400-pound beast of a racecar that handles the way the COT will. Not that he won't get a feel for the car or take the advice of his teammates. We just think it will take the 21-year-old a little longer to get acquainted. The Hendrick R&D won't hurt though.
Busch should have a solid year otherwise. Don't expect him to reel off six or seven wins, but two or three are not out of the question, and 15 to 20 top 10s are now expected. Busch will be in the hunt for a Chase spot through Richmond; we just think he'll get "Stewarted" this season.
2006 Recap Kyle Busch had a pretty solid regular season. There were bumps along the way - a couple 30-something finishes here and there - but they were balanced by nine top 5s, with a big New Hampshire win, in the season's first 26 events.
A couple of run-ins with Tony Stewart were quelled when Rick Hendrick took the youngster aside and straightened out any maturity issues that may have been holding him back.
A solid run through the summer months - Busch advanced as far as fourth in the standings - seemed to have the team in position for a legitimate title run.
Then, five laps into the Chase, his season went to hell. An impatient move in traffic sent his battered Chevy behind the wall and out of contention for a title. Winning the Cup is as much a mental game as an on-track performance contest. And while he did record three top 10s in the Chase, he was clearly out of his league from the get-go.
• The Good: Kyle Busch made a late run in the fall Bristol race to finish second to Matt Kenseth. He passed several cars in the last 100 laps with controlled aggressive driving. That may have been his best performance of the season.
• The Bad: The wreck in the Chase's first event at New Hampshire was a killer. A classic case of a kid trying to do too much too quickly. You can bet he learned from that one.
• The Ugly: It's not nice to throw things at others. In anger, Busch threw his HANS device at Casey Mears' car after Mears put him in the wall at Lowe's. That little fit cost him 25 championship points and 50 Gs.