AVONDALE, AZ – Kyle Busch knew last weekend in Texas that it would be a battle between he and Joey Logano for the final wildcard spot at the ISM Raceway to get into the Championship 4. Busch and Logano were separated by just two points in the standings.
He was right too.
Luckily for Busch, he has been en fuego lately in Phoenix. Since we switched to this configuration last November, Busch was undefeated on it. He won last year’s playoff race as well as the spring race this past March.
On Saturday, Busch earned his first pole of the season for Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500. Everything was lining up for him to get to Homestead and race for a championship for the fifth straight year.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as it could have been. Busch, finished third and fourth in the two stages, accumulating 15 stage points. Logano, finished fourth and first, scoring 17 stage points.
That meant the duo was tied for the final spot heading into the final stage. Meanwhile, Logano was restarting the race in the lead on the final stage. That’s where this race changed.
Logano, went from in the lead on Lap 176 to falling a lap down in 11th 62 laps later. His crew made an air pressure adjustment on his pit stop during the stage break and it cost them. Denny Hamlin passed Logano for the lead on the restart while Busch would get him too and ride in second.
Despite a late race caution on Lap 302, Busch restarted third but quickly passed Ryan Blaney for second and would finish there on Sunday afternoon on the Arizona oval. That would advance Busch to the Championship 4 despite him not having won a race since June 2.
Busch though, has four straight top two finishes in the Arizona desert and eight top four results in his last nine tries overall.
His 21 race winless drought is noticeable though. He’s only had three top five finishes in his last 10 starts on the season. Two of those three though have occurred in the last four races. He’s trending up again but heads to a race next Sunday in Homestead that will force him to win.
Since the Championship 4’s inception in 2014, the champion has won the race each and every year. Busch, is riding a 21 race winless streak. Denny Hamlin has won six times this season, twice in the last four weeks. Kevin Harvick won last week in Texas. Martin Truex Jr. won two weeks ago in Martinsville and has won three times this playoffs.
Since Busch won in June, Hamlin, Truex and Harvick have each won four times. Busch, has to find a way to end that drought in a span of a week.