Kyle Busch hated that he had to use his regular season bonus points as “insurance” for a struggling first round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Joey Logano was in the same boat. Neither really did much with the exception of Busch’s second place run at Richmond.
Well, if both want to make it to the Homestead-Miami Speedway next month competing for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, then they really need to step things up this weekend at the Dover International Speedway.
See, while Busch enters the Round of 12 as the current points leader, that advantage could quickly evaporate in a short amount of time.
The 15-point regular season championship bonus Busch earned has certainly come in useful. Before adding regular season bonus points that he diligently collected, Busch was technically seventh in points earned in the three Playoff races. However, he reassumes the lead thanks to the series-best 46 Playoff points that count toward each Playoff round.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is +41 above the cutoff line and should honestly be fine as long as he’s a consistent top 10 threat during the second round, but that’s just that, he’s not been consistent lately.
Busch, has won four times this season but none since June 2. His first round playoff results were 19th (Las Vegas), second (Richmond) and 37th (Charlotte Roval). He’s scored just four top five finishes in his last 12 races overall and has three finishes of 19th or worse in his last four starts on the season.
That’s backing his way into the second round.
Luckily, Busch has had some great success in the fall Dover race. He finished runner-up in 2015 and 2016 and even won in 2017. He brought his No. 18 Toyota home eighth in last year’s race.
Where this could go wrong those is, his last six spring race finishes on the Monster Mile were – 42nd, 36th, 30th, 16th, 35th and 10th respectively. Combine that with sliding backwards on the season and you could get trouble on Sunday afternoon.
That point advantage is really only good for one mulligan. So far, he may need it. Busch, was just 15th and 17th respectively in practice on Friday including being only 13th on the 10 lap averages. He’ll start just 18th for Sunday’s race.
Next weekend we go to the Talladega Superspeedway. There’s absolutely no guarantees there. What happens if he gets caught up in a big one next Sunday afternoon on the 2.66-mile Alabama race track?
That leaves Kansas as the final race this round, a place Busch finished 30th at back in May and a 1.5-mile track that Busch has struggled on during the 2019 season. On similar tracks, Busch was third at Vegas in the spring race but 19th in the playoff event. In Chicago, he was only 22nd. He did finish second at Kentucky.
That’s why Busch needs to turn his season back around this weekend. If he doesn’t, he could be sweating it out the final two weeks of the Round of 12.
Same for Logano.
He was only 23rd quickest in final practice and starts 14th. Logano, sits fourth in the standings but is only +24. He can afford a mini mulligan but wit Talladega coming up next Sunday, he can’t rest on his morals.
Plus, Logano hasn’t won a race since June 10 and has scored just one top five finish over his last 12 on the season. Six of his last nine results have landed his No. 22 Ford outside of the top 10 at that.
At Dover, Logano has only two top 10 finishes since 2014. He was seventh back in May. This may not be a good weekend for him.
Busch, hasn’t won since June 2 – Logano since June 10. Neither look like those winless droughts will end in Sunday’s race.