28 July 2015

After winning at the Brickyard, is Kyle Busch the title favorite?

(Indianapolis Star)
Kyle Busch has only raced in nine races this season and he still is on the outside looking in when it comes to qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But after winning the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, his third win in a row and his fourth victory in five races, has he become the new title favorite?

What Busch has been doing this past month has been truly remarkable, especially considering that prior to winning at Sonoma he had been very inconsistent with only two top 11's and two DNF's. More impressive is the fact that Busch has won at four unique racetracks (Sonoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire and now Indianapolis) and perhaps most impressive at all is that he is doing all of this with a rookie crew chief with whom he has to adjust to quickly in order to get to the Chase.

Of course as I noted earlier, Busch is still not in the Chase just yet. Drivers have to finish in the top 30 in points to qualify with a win and he is 23 points shy of 30th place in the standings. Now there is no guarantee that Busch would get to the top 30 within the remaining six races before the Chase begins but with how well Rowdy has been running of late, one would be stunned if he were not able to get in.

Busch is the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win three straight Cup races and the fifth driver to do it in the past 20 seasons. The track record for those drivers is very strong with Johnson in 2007 and Jeff Gordon in 1998, both of whom won four straight races, winning titles that season while Gordon in 1996 and Johnson in 2004 both finishing second in the points. Of course, none of those drivers did that in a season with this current Chase format.

And it is this Chase format that makes it difficult even right now to determine a championship favorite since one bad race in any of the elimination stages could prove fatal, should the driver in question fail to win a race in that timespan.

Regardless of whether he goes on to win the championship or even get to the Chase, what Busch has been doing on the track has been truly spectacular and leaves one wondering just what he will do next as NASCAR's "regular season" winds down. 

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