Kyle Busch continued his torrid comeback from his February accident by claiming his second victory in as many weekends, and third overall, in the 5-Hour Energy 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire. With his victory, he now sits 33rd in Sprint Cup standings, needing to finish 30th or better to qualify for the Chase. Kyle Busch currently sits 58 points behind David Gilliland, who finished 21st.
His season didn’t begin quite as fortunate, if you recall. The day before Daytona 500 began, he broke his left foot and right leg in an unexpected crash, which forced him to miss 11 races. Upon his return in May, he’s been nothing short of phenomenal in jumping so close to Chase qualification. In fact, it’s taken only two races for Kyle Busch to jump into contention, gaining 70 points in those two contests (including New Hampshire). All this, and he’s still not 100 percent.
In order for Kyle Busch to catch Gilliand, he’d need only to finish Top 20 in every race leading up to Chase races. That gives another seven races of opportunity to Busch, with the Chase beginning September 20th at Chicagoland Speedway. Not many racers could miss 11 races and even crack the top 30 by October, let alone accomplishing that feat before Chase qualifiers are announced. Although nobody’s prepared to call Kyle Busch “lucky,” he’s starting to settle the naysayers’ idle chatter in 2015 by taking his third victory in the last four contests.
Rallying from one lap down for his victory, Kyle Busch didn’t relent in giving Joe Gibbs Racing another inspirational win in 2015. He managed an acceptable 134.725 MPH average lap speed in his Toyota, good enough for 4th overall. But it was his crew chief’s decision to skip a pit stop that helped Busch leapfrog from third to first, which he never relinquished again. The victory marks the 12th winner in 12 races at Loudon, the longest active streak with no repeat winners. Gibbs Racing is currently 8th in owner standings.
Rounding out the top five finishers is Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Earnhardt Jr. Other notable finishers include Jeff Gordon (9th), Jimmie Johnson (22nd) and Tony Stewart (20th). Kyle Busch led 96 of 301 laps, while Keselowski, currently 7th in cup standings, led 100 laps. Thanks to NASCAR offering Busch a waiver that makes him Chase eligible, hurdling over two relatively weak drivers shouldn’t be difficult, with the next few races being pivotal for Busch and his team.
Next race: July 26, Jeff Kyle 400 at Brickyard, sponsored by Crown Royal.
[Photo by Getty Images]