“To think that he could go through what he went through early this year at Daytona and all of the heartbreak that went with that… I think it’s a special sports story,” said Joe Gibbs, winning car owner of the 2015 Brickyard 400.
Indeed, comeback stories, such as that of Kyle Busch this season, are the stuff of movies and rehashed at end-of-year recaps when detailing the best sports stories of the year.
After missing the first 11 races of the Sprint Cup Series due to injuries to his right leg, left leg and left foot sustained in the season-opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona, Busch has come back red hot, winning three of the last four most recent races on the schedule, including Sunday’s Brickyard 400.
You already knew all of that. Chances are, even if you didn’t watch the race from Indianapolis, you’ve certainly heard that, yes, Busch won again and swept both of the weekend’s races at the historic racetrack (Busch won the Xfinity Series race on Saturday). It’s not often that drivers are able to so — dare I say “easily” — pick up where they left off after returning from a hiatus, no matter the circumstances. It’s so easy to get behind and have to play catchup with the competition even when the circumstances are good, let alone when a competitor is making a return. In a sport where seconds matter, you don’t have to be far off to be far off.
You also probably know that Busch’s Chase eligibility is now well within reach, as he sits a mere 23 points out of the top 30 in points. Busch had two goals in mind when he returned to competition: win a race and make it into the top 30 in points. If he did those two things, NASCAR would waive the rule that states a driver must (attempt to) compete in all championship points events to be eligible for the Chase.
After four races reaching Victory Lane, goal one is already completed. It is because of the success achieved in goal one that goal number two is now much more attainable.
“I don’t have any doubts, but we’re still not there, and even if we did get there, we still have got to be able to protect that spot and make it into the Chase,” Busch said in post-race interviews. “Whether we get into the Chase and become Chase eligible next week or the week after or the week after that, it doesn’t matter as long as it comes post-race Richmond. That’s all that matters. Whether we get in and whether we continue to grow and get top 25, none of that matters, just us being able to achieve the top-30 rule and get as many wins as possible in order to [get] the top seed come Chase time.”
Indeed, that truly is the only goal now, and one that is reachable. In fact, I would almost go so far as to wonder which race Busch finally climbs into the top 30, not if it happens at all.
However, no one is debating whether or not Busch can make it into the top 30. Very few are debating if he will. The debate seems to be centered around whether or not this debate should even be a discussion at all. Busch missed 11 races, after all. Why should he still be eligible to compete for a championship? In fact, this very argument was brought up to Busch post-race and he was reminded that this position was one that many fans are taking.
“I don’t care what people say,” Busch said. “We’re a team, and we work together as a team, and we’re going to go out here and do what we can to bring Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota, Skittles, M&M’s, Monster Energy, Pedigree, Snickers, all of our partners, a championship. That’s what it’s all about.”
Of course, Busch didn’t just leave it at that.
“They pay me to be behind the wheel, and unfortunately due to injury I wasn’t able to attend the first 11 races of the season,” Busch continued. “It’s not like I didn’t want to be there but my team was still there, and we’re going to go on and compete for a championship, and if we win a championship, then it’s not that they’re going to take it away from me. It is what it is. As far as right now, Tom Brady is going to be suspended for the first four games of the season, and then he’s probably going to go on and compete for a championship and might even win the Super Bowl and I doubt anybody is going to take away a Super Bowl championship from that gentleman, so more power to him.”
In other words, why should his No. 18 team be punished for Busch’s absence when they have been working towards this goal all season long? If one member of the team is absent, the whole team isn’t deemed ineligible as a result.
Additionally, there is not one other team out there that deserves to be in the Chase more than Busch based on performance that isn’t already there anyway. There is no team that is going to get screwed over on a technicality or an exception if (and when) Busch makes it in. Should Busch knock a driver out of the Chase, it is almost certainly going to be someone who is winless and was at the cusp of missing the 16-driver field in the first place. Can you make a compelling case that a driver with four wins deserves to be in the Chase less than a driver who is 16th in points with zero wins? Partial season or not, that’s just nonsense. If the sport truly is about wins as fans, competitors, and NASCAR alike claim, then not only does Busch deserve it more than the lower-level Chase drivers, he has earned his spot more rightfully than most who are already locked in. Considering that he earned this position in a shorter amount of time than what other teams had, that makes the team more deserving – not less.
The bottom line is that the No. 18 Toyota cannot be punished for losing their driver when they have otherwise put up an exceptional performance and Busch, based on his own wins and results, has more than earned his right to contend. Consider that Busch will likely have the points lead once the Chase resets for the Chase, as he has already tied Jimmie Johnson for the most number of wins this season… with 11 fewer races under his belt.
Love him, hate him, it doesn’t matter. Busch and his race team have absolutely put on a championship-worthy performance. It will ultimately be up to them to earn that title, but they have no doubt earned the right to contend for it.
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BZF, is addicted to “feel good” stories, this “feel good” story is no different, I am convinced it is some sort of social media guilt about the perils of racing and that spot on the track that was not ‘protected”. I do not feel he should be in “The Chase”, but from what we have seen of this stupid incantation of Brian’s beloved “Chase”, does it really flipping matter? Hell, Newman and Hamlin got to the show last year. NASCAR bends the rules as they see fit, he will get in..but the argument about “the team” doesn’t matter, they all knew what they were getting into, and everybody’s team works just as hard. That argument is lame. The folly of the whole thing is the rule, I say keep him out, next year is another year. But if he crawls in with this stupid rule, then he did nothing wrong. Although, I still think someone missing those amount of races regardless of how they perform means in essence rule bending. He is a race car driver, yeah so what..that is his job (like we all have) and he missed those days(races)……the matter of which he was injured should not matter..just saying. A Golden Horseshoe the likes that would make Jimmie jealous is interesting to say the least..but with NASCAR and their scripts, not really. WWE! Sorry about Gordon…that stunk.
Maybe if NASCAR had done IT”S job and had enough safety barriers Busch wouldn’t have broken his legs…. Then the issue would be a mute one…..
However they didn’t have the safety walls and he did break his legs so in effect it was Nascar’s fault he had to miss those races.
If he wasn’t in the race to feed his ego he wouldn’t have been injured.
Racers race and internet trolls write comments like yours, DoninAja
So you are the ultimate arbiter of opinion and anyone that disagrees with you is a troll. Many fans believe that the Cup drivers have no business in the lesser series as evidenced by the empty stands. There is a reason that virtually every competitive event known to man has classes. That reason is to keep idiots like the half dozen Cup drivers that enter the Xfinity races from robbing spectators of an entertaining evenly matched event? Had Kyle Busch not felt the need to step down in class (and assure us a dull non competitive event) he would not have been hurt. It is a valid point. You made no counter arguement whatsoever, just went straight to name calling. Seems like if you are on a droll hunt all you need is a mirror.
John Q…seems like the two Busch fans are here again under different names. Not to hard to figure it out. They are the trolls. Although, they don’t seem to grasp what that actually means.
You nailed it right with your comment, thanks. $ 400 million dollar Daytona makeover and yet they still didn’t and don’t have safer barriers everywhere. It was Nascar’s fault that Kyle broke those bones, and knowing it was there own fault Nascar granted Kyle the waiver.
Good article and for sure right on. Nascar is a top news story right now because of Kyle Busch and if the purpose of the chase in the first place is to put the best 16 racers out there to run for a championship, then how in the world could you not include the guy who has at least 4 wins and is one of the top two or three drivers in the series/world. It would be a joke to leave him out, and would make whomever wins the championship with the question of, are they really better than Kyle Busch.
Rules? What rules? Brian is just following Obama’s style. When someone points out a rule or law, so what. The ones in power either ignore or make up the rules as they go. Remember in today’s society laws/rules mean little even the Constitution not to mention sanctuary cities. I hate it but, it’s reality
The only reason the rule exists that drivers have to attempt every race is to keep them (Junior and Danica mostly)from skipping races. If Kyle could have raced every race, he would have. I don’t much care for Kyle but there’s no denying that what he has accomplished since coming back from his Daytona injury is nothing short of remarkable, even championship-worthy. With the crap-shoot chase, it’s certainly a possibility, and you can’t blame Kyle for that.
I know that assigning blame is great fun. However, every driver knows, or should know, that racing is a dangerous sport. That when you climb in a race car something bad can happen. Thats why they get the perks they get. So while sorry that he, or anyone else got hurt it doesn’t make him special.
But drivers are different. I was on the starting grid at VIR the weekend after Sr. was killed. Remember thinking that “I bet theres not a single driver out here who thinks it could happen to him”. Bet I was right.
wow people.. seems some of you don’t actually READ the press releases and news stories.. the folks at NASCAR STATED that the reason they were bending this rule was because they felt RESPONSIBLE for Kyle’s injury.. case closed.. hard to believe that after winning 4 races, ANYONE thinks that he should be kept out of the chase by drivers who haven’t won ANY races.. but for those uninformed masses, it must have just looked like another good excuse to blame something else totally unconnected on the President Of The United States..