Kurt Busch didn’t know if he’d be watching his beloved Chicago Cubs in person or from his home when they tried to stave off elimination in Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
But Busch certainly wasn’t going to count his Cubbies out even though they faced long odds overcoming a 3-1 deficit. Only 12 teams in 81 tries have overcome that deficit in baseball.
Busch finds himself in a similar situation, facing an uphill battle to make it into the championship round of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch finished 22nd Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, putting him in essentially a must-win position these next two weeks to keep his championship dreams alive.
Busch admitted he’d have to go “full throttle” Sunday at the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
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“We’re in the Chase and it’s the Round of 8 so we have to win this bad boy if we want to advance,” said Busch, who won the 2004 championship. “We’re looking forward to it. Friday when we get to the track, we’re going to be running 200 mph and it’s going to be full throttle.”
We have to win this bad boy if we want to advance.
Busch feels good about his chances at Texas. He won the fall 2009 race and has 15 top-10s in 27 career starts. In April, Busch ran ninth in the Duck Commander 500.
Busch described TMS as one of his “bread-and-butter tracks” where he expects to finish in the top 10. But he’ll need better than that this weekend.
With the 22nd-place finish at Martinsville, Busch is seventh in the standings and 18 points back of the cutoff to advance.
Only four of the remaining eight drivers will make it to the championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this month, and one of the spots has already been taken by Jimmie Johnson, who punched his ticket by winning at Martinsville.
“A win would be wonderful, but still at the same time guys like Carl Edwards had trouble this past weekend, teammate Kevin Harvick, we all struggled at [Stewart-Haas Racing]. But you never know what’s going to happen when you go into the next race,” Busch said. “So you just go business as usual, not too much stress.”
This Chase format, though, puts stress on drivers and teams. Winning is the only way to guarantee a spot in the next round.
1 Career championship for Kurt Busch, who won it in 2004
When Busch won his title in 2004, he had 10 races to do it. Now it’s down to three rounds of three races and the championship finale at Homestead.
Busch has gotten by on points, but is now in a spot where he needs his second win of the season.
“The closer you get to Homestead, got a shot at the championship, the bigger the pressure is,” Busch said. “That’s what I love. I love to go out there and give it all for my team.
“This new format is way more cutthroat than when I won the championship. You have to adapt, you have to find new ways to win. … I love the format the way it is right now. It’s truly the most competitive situation in motorsports.”
AAA Texas 500
1 p.m. Sunday, KXAS/Ch. 5