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Monday, October 29, 2007

Kyle Busch a Title Contender despite Bad Luck

Kyle Busch has driven like the 2007 Nextel Cup champion despite being in sixth place in the chase for the title.

There are few drivers in NASCAR that pose a significant threat to win every race. Kyle Busch represents just such a threat. Kyle Busch may be the leader in the Chase for the Cup if not for some bad luck.

Top Chase contenders have reached this point without the obstacles that Kyle Busch faces each week. There is no question of Busch’s prowess at the wheel of the Kellogg’s Chevrolet, a Craftsman truck, or any other racing vehicle. He proved this Saturday on his way to recording an unlikely truck win in the EasyCare Vehicles Service Contracts 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch snatched the lead from Ron Hornaday with eight laps to go and never looked back. That description does not reflect the eventful race that Busch endured en
route to his fifth victory in the truck series. Kyle Busch was black flagged because the window net, a safety feature in NASCAR, had worked its way loose. This forced him to negotiate Atlanta’s ultra fast oval using one hand while trying to hold the net in place.

Ron Hornaday watched Busch pull off this feat and commented on the difficulty of racing for a victory at Atlanta with one hand.
"Impossible, and he did it," Hornaday said, shaking his head.

This type of luck has not translated into victories on the Nextel Cup side of things. Kyle Busch has had terrible luck during this year’s Chase for the Cup. He finished a dismal 41st at Kansas; followed by a 36th place performance at Talladega, and a 20th place finish Sunday at Atlanta. Despite these results, Busch left Sunday’s race in sixth place for the championship. Kyle had a car that was in a position to win if not for a dreadful stop during a late race caution. As the caution waved, Busch entered the pits as the leader before the jack man failed to raise the car high enough for the right front tire changer to execute a tire change quickly. The incident pushed him back in the field where he was caught up in a late race melee involving Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Busch was very angry and rightly so. At season’s end, Kyle Busch is being replaced at Hendrick Motorsports by one of NASCAR’s biggest stars, Dale Earnhardt Jr. In the meantime, Busch is still a member of Hendrick Motorsports and is contending for the championship. However, he has been barred from design and technological meetings because he is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing. Since Kyle has been excluded from these sessions, he is proving that he can contend for wins even when handicapped by his team. Busch is fantastic even when driving with one hand, literally and figuratively. A strong new team eagerly awaits his arrival, and with a little luck, count on his talent shining through in 2008.

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