DOVER, Del.—In the first two races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch has been showing some Jimmie Johnson-like resilience.
Last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, for instance, Busch overcame a litany of issues, including a crash initiated by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, to finish eighth and tie Dale Earnhardt Jr. for fifth in the Chase standings.
After qualifying second to pole winner Kevin Harvick on Friday at Dover International Speedway, Busch made light of the four accidents and an engine failure he suffered in the weeks leading into the Chase. Those incidents, he joked, prepared his team for the rally achieved at New Hampshire.
“That’s why I wrecked five, six weeks in a row leading up to the Chase, was to give them plenty of opportunity to know how to fix it,” Busch quipped. “So they certainly knew what they were doing when we got to Loudon, and I certainly give ‘em props for that…
“I was really pumped up, really impressed with our guys and what we were able to do there.”
Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) is the first elimination race under NASCAR’s revamped Chase playoff format this year. The bottom four Chase drivers in the standings will be cut from the Chase, but Busch, who has a 28-point lead over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in 13th, expects to advance to the next round without difficulty.
“We feel plenty confident coming in here to have the opportunity to move on,” he said. “I think a top-20 finish is plenty secure for us. Man, I can’t remember the last time here that I’ve had a solid run and wasn’t in the top 10.
“I foresee us being just fine, and just having a good, solid day here Sunday will take us into Kansas next week.”