When Kyle Busch’s car limped its way into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage on Sunday, it not only continued the No. 18 team’s string of bad luck, but also made the AdvoCare 500 an even more critical race for one of the sport’s biggest names.
Busch’s chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup may very well come down to what happens on Labor Day Weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, creating a climate where one of racing’s most exciting drivers may be forced to take big chances on the track in order to run near the front or capture the checkered flag.
Busch is no stranger to success in NASCAR, with 24 victories in less than eight full-time seasons in the Sprint Cup Series. That success has been replaced by ill-fated luck in 2012. In the past nine races, Busch has failed to finish three times and has just one top-five and two top-10 finishes during the same stretch.
Busch currently finds himself on the outside looking in on qualifying for the Chase. He’s 15th in the overall points standings. As the wild-card standings go, Busch is in an even more precarious position.
Kasey Kahne currently holds the top wild card spot with two wins, and Jeff Gordon holds the other wild card position by virtue of Sunday’s win at Pocono and having gained more points than the other drivers ranked 11-20 with one win.
Busch, Joey Logano, Gordon and Ryan Newman each have one win. A victory during the next five races could very easily translate into a Chase spot for any of these drivers, making the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway even bigger. Carl Edwards is also in the hunt, but likely needs two wins during that same stretch since he has yet to find his way to victory lane in 2012.
Here is a look at the wild-card standings:
|Driver||Points Out of Top Ten|
|Kasey Kahne||-122 (Holds No. 1 wild card spot with two wins)|
|Jeff Gordon||-133 (Holds No. 2 wild card spot with one win)|
|Ryan Newman||-133 (one win)|
|Kyle Busch||-145 (one win)|
|Joey Logano||-169 (one win)|
Labor Day Weekend will likely be a high-pressure race for Busch. But winning at Atlanta is something he is familiar with. His victory here in 2008 was Toyota’s first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His best night race finish at Atlanta was fifth in the 2010 Emory Healthcare 500.
High drama will take center stage on Labor Day Weekend. The best way to see it to be here live and in person under the lights at one of NASCAR’s most exciting tracks!