NASCAR: Busch looks unbeatable
By John Kekis
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. ó Memo to the Sprint Cup garage: The Wild Thing is scary good, and trying to scare him is a lost cause.
If rivals Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who have won six Cup titles in the past 13 years, think words might rattle Kyle Busch as the Chase for the championship looms, they don’t know their former teammate very well.
Both Johnson and Gordon, teammates at Hendrick Motorsports with Busch until he was let go in favor of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after last season, said in the past week they thought Busch was slipping after two straight lackluster finishes.
Busch answered by making NASCAR history on Sunday. He led 52 laps from the pole and held off road master Tony Stewart in the end to win the Centurion Boats at The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
That made Busch the first driver in NASCAR history to win three road course races in one season.
“I think the question of pressure has been answered. I don’t think that bothers him. I think he feeds on it and uses it to his advantage,” said Stewart, Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing and a two-time Cup champ. “I don’t think he’s one of those guys that pressure really affects. He’s so motivated to win I don’t even know if he even feels pressure. It’s hard for anything to affect you when you’re having a season like this.”
Busch, who also clinched the top spot in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup title, has won 16 races in NASCAR’s top three series this season ó eight in Sprint Cup, six in Nationwide and two in trucks. His win Sunday completed a trifecta on road courses that also includes the Nationwide race in Mexico in April and the Cup race at Sonoma in June.
“That’s pretty neat, pretty special to me,” said Busch, who also finished second Saturday in the Nationwide race here. “To be a force to be reckoned with means a lot. This year has just been phenomenal. It’s just crazy.”
Busch also joined another select group. Only Jeff Gordon, Stewart and Robby Gordon had swept both Cup road course events in the same year.
“That kid’s awesome,” said Steve Addington, Busch’s crew chief. “I can’t believe we don’t win a race in three or four weeks and we’re in a slump.”
Actually, Busch has won four of the past seven races, and Sunday’s victory gives him 80 bonus points for the Chase, 50 more than Carl Edwards with four races remaining before the postseason. Drivers get 10 bonus points for a victory, and the points for the top 12 drivers will be reset at 5,000 when the Chase begins.
After a 43-minute red-flag stoppage due to a multicar pileup with eight laps to go, Busch easily held off Stewart, who was bidding for his fifth win here in seven starts. Stewart settled for his second straight runner-up finish and moved within 10 points of Jeff Gordon for sixth in the standings.