Welcome to the Busch Chronicles. Brother Kurt missed the opening three races of the season, won a couple and quickly qualified for a Chase place by being well within the Top 30 in points on the season. Brother Kyle missed the opening 11 events of the season after suffering a broken leg in the XFINITY race at Daytona. He seems to be doing well after his first eight back. Three wins in his last four, including his run last Sunday at New Hampshire, has him close. I thought he might pick up twenty points on the 30th place Cole Whitt, but I was wrong.
On lap 245, Busch sensed a tire going down and came to the pits under green. He slipped a lap down but had car enough to try to get it back on his own. On lap 252 he made a wild pass with no room to spare to slip by both Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick just before the caution came out due to fluid on the track. Not only was he back on the lead lap, all the other drivers pitted when he did not need to, making Busch the leader. He remained on point through to the 301st and final circuit to claim the victory, and accumulated 47 points.
That was better than Cole Whitt, who had been 30th in the standings coming in. He was 28th on the day, allowing David Gilliland to move past him on the charts as he claimed 21st. Even with the swap of targets, Busch reduced his deficit from 87 to 58 points, a gain of 29 on the position he is aiming for.
It is more than realistic to see Kyle moving into at least 30th in points, thus making his wins count toward the standings, to move him from 33rd today to at least second by the time they leave Watkins Glen. If he continues making 29-point gains, he could be there before they arrive at the road course. It is not always all about Kyle, but right now it sure is.
Goodyear supplies the rubber, but one would have sworn Alex Bowman had one of Barney Rubble’s firestones onboard. He provided a whole new definition to burning rubber as he went up in flames on his way out of the pits, as it appears the residual old hot rubber set the new rubber ablaze. The 22-year-old finished the race though about 70 laps down. Sure, Kyle is hot right now, but for a few moments it could be argued that Alex was even hotter.
Clint Bowyer is not though he could be upset by tumbling out of the Sweet Sixteen. Finishing 34th did him no favors, 19 spots behind Aric Almirola. Almirola is now in 16th, two points up while Ryan Newman launched from seven to now 30 points ahead of Clint as he moves to 14th on the charts.
So, we await a first-time winner to secure a spot, especially someone from outside the top 16. Carl Edwards is thirteen points behind Bowyer, but his win at Charlotte was huge. This weekend the storyline could be about one of the rich getting richer, or maybe someone jumping the line to steal a place with a surprise victory, the latest tango involving Bowyer and Almirola, and the continuing adventures of Kurt’s little brother.
Next up is the Brickyard this Sunday. Jeff Gordon won his fifth at Indianapolis last year while Jimmie Johnson could add to his four win total of this year by taking his fifth ever at the Brickyard. Kyle has never won at this venue, but this is another week and that is just another challenge to be overcome.