Kyle Busch hasn’t clinched a spot in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.
Not yet, anyway. Math notwithstanding, it’s inevitable Busch will qualify – and likely as a top-10 points finisher during the regular season.
Busch’s Watkins Glen victory was the driver’s third of the 2013 season. He ranks fifth in the standings – his highest since early spring when Busch reached the runner-up spot after winning in Texas. The current campaign is nothing like that of a year ago in which Busch went to Richmond needing to win and fell short.
His No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has been among the fastest in the field regardless of track configuration. Busch has led 12 of 22 races and is peaking at the right time with four consecutive top-10 finishes that include the Glen victory and a runner-up finish in New Hampshire.
“This has been a good year for us,” Busch said in his post-race interview.
Busch won Michigan’s August event in 2011 and finished fourth at MIS in June.
Two other former Michigan winners bear watching on Sunday. Kevin Harvick won in August 2010 and finished second to Greg Biffle in June. Ranked fourth, Harvick appears headed for an eighth Chase appearance in his final season behind the wheel of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
A top-10 finish at Watkins Glen moved Kurt Busch closer to the top 10. He trails 10th-ranked Martin Truex Jr. by two points. The elder Busch brother is a two-time Michigan winner, most recently in August 2006.
The injured Tony Stewart likely will miss this year’s Chase, however, his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet remains the No. 2 owner Wild Card after Max Papis’ 15th-place finish at Watkins Glen. NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Austin Dillon will drive the car this Sunday at Michigan where Dillon recorded his best Sprint Cup finish of 11th in June.