NASCAR Watkins Glen Notebook: Kyle Busch Likes Chase Qualification Rules

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – With four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories since returning from an 11-race injury absence, Kyle Busch will be eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as soon as he cracks the top 30 in the series standings.

That could come as early as Sunday at Watkins Glen International, if Busch makes up a 13-point deficit to 30th-place David Gilliland in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Though Busch is a prolific winner at NASCAR’s top level, he doesn’t begrudge those who qualify for the Chase with a single victory, as both Aric Almirola (Daytona) and AJ Allmendinger (Watkins Glen) did last year.

In fact, Busch fully supports the win-and-you’re-in aspect of the playoff eligibility rules.

“I think winning in this sport is very, very tough and you see it every single year,” Busch said. “I think the average is only between 12 and 14 (different) winners in a season, and that’s been that way for 15 years or 20 years or whatever it’s been. It’s not all that easy to win these races, and sometimes you look at teams – maybe last year you look at Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger. They won races to get themselves into the Chase, but were their teams really ready for the Chase?

“That’s not for any of us to decide. It’s for them to be able to compete and have that opportunity to compete for the championship… There’s opportunity for teams like that, and I think this sport needs that. If AJ were to win again this weekend, I think it would be perfect for him to have the opportunity to race in the Chase and same for anybody else like a Tony Stewart. If he were to win this weekend, I think it would be a true revival story of his season and maybe of the rest of his career.”

It’s also worth noting that, if there’s a repeat winner on Sunday at Watkins Glen, all 10 races winners this season other than Busch will be locked into the Chase. Those with multiple wins — Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth — already have earned Chase berths.


It would have been a smart bet to wager that Chris Buescher wouldn’t win his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race on a road course.

But it’s a bet you would have lost.

Advancing to his current XFINITY ride at Roush Fenway Racing through Legends Cars and ARCA Racing, Buescher may have seemed an unlikely candidate for a road course win, but that didn’t stop him from taking the checkered flag at Mid-Ohio last year.

And Buescher will take offense if you attribute his victory to mere good fortune. Nevertheless, to win his first XFINITY race on a road course surprised the series points leader.

“Yes, very surprised,” Buescher acknowledged. “Like I said, road racing is not my background. Mid-Ohio, we showed up really fast off the truck and we were able to maintain the speed throughout the weekend, so we knew we had a shot. We were top-five every time we went on track, whether it was qualifying or practice, and the whole race we were able to maintain that.

“It’s not like we lucked into it either. We were on a fuel mileage strategy, but at the same time we had a late-race restart with 20 or 18 to go, and they had their shot to try and get around us, so we were able to pull it off. But it was a big surprise.”

Buescher would like nothing better than to be surprised again, considering that, starting with Saturday’s Zippo 200 at The Glen (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), the XFINITY Series will race at three road courses within a four-week span — including a return trip to Mid-Ohio next week.

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