Kyle Busch stood outside his hauler in the infield at Kansas Speedway this week, wearing shades on an overcast day. Busch looked comfortable, breezily answering questions, even though he acknowledges the stress that weighs on him.
This is supposed to be the year he finally wins a Cup title.
He’s married now and has mellowed slightly, showing more maturity on and off the track. He’s won four more times to push his career total to 30, and started the Chase as the top seed.
But Busch has gotten off to a mediocre start through three races coming into Kansas City, Kan., where his season has gone bust his last few title runs. He’s eighth entering today’s race in the tightly bunched Chase standings, 15 points off co-leaders Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.
“There’s 43 guys out here every week that if they don’t win, they didn’t meet the potential they wanted to,” Busch said.
“There’s been times we won races and we didn’t feel like we reached everything we needed to reach,” Busch said.
“It’s high pressure, it’s high stakes. There’s a lot on the line and this is a performance business, and you’ve certainly got to make the most of it. We’re trying every week.”
It just hasn’t been quite good enough.
The 26-year-old Busch started the Chase with a 26th-place run at Chicago and finished 11th at New Hampshire before a sixth-place run last weekend at Dover restored some confidence.
He’ll roll off alongside Matt Kenseth, who is just ahead of him in seventh in the Chase, with two-time Kansas winner Greg Biffle and Chase co-leader Edwards on the front row.
Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch are tied for third in the Chase, and both have plenty of ground to make up. Stewart will roll off 23rd and Busch, the winner at Dover, will start 17th.
Denny Hamlin will start seventh, Jeff Gordon 10th, Ryan Newman 11th and Brad Keselowski 12th among Chase contenders. Earnhardt will start 18th and Jimmie Johnson 19th.
Brad Keselowski dominated the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Kansas Speedway, leading 173 of 200 laps on the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, Kan.
Keselowski, the Sprint Cup winner at the track in June, fell behind Carl Edwards after a late caution, but pulled ahead with 11 laps to go and beat Edwards by 2.795 seconds.
Elliott Sadler was third, followed by Paul Menard, points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Bryan Vickers, Trevor Bayne and Ryan Truex.
Keselowski has four victories this year