Busch taking no prisoners in Chase race

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

TALLADEGA, Alabama — If the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship was an old time western movie, surely the guy wearing the black hat would be Kyle Busch.

The 25-year-old native of Las Vegas thrives in his role as stock car racing’s bad boy.

When you combine his tremendous talent with his tenacious will to win there are times when his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is a bomb waiting to go off.

A bomb, by the way, that Busch was driving on Talladega’s high-banked oval at 201.109 m.p.h. on Friday when he and his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin both topped the 200 m.p.h. mark.

It is just that mixture of speed, savvy and edge, however, that also makes him one of the most interesting and exciting of the 43 drivers who weekly chase the $1-million paydays at NASCAR’s top level.

Add to that the fact that while Hamlin clearly is the best of the Gibbs Toyotas this season — he’s only six points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson — Busch isn’t necessarily the kind of teammate who will go out of his way to push him to the finish line.

A look at his history and you can find more than a few occasions where Busch has pushed his own brother (Kurt Busch) out of the way when a win was on the line.

So it was intriguing to listen to Kyle Busch at Talladega when he talked as if — even at 167 points back of Johnson — he feels that he still can win the whole thing with the right kind of result Sunday in the AMP Energy Drink 500.

You had to believe that Hamlin was listening too, when his teammate made a no-so-vague reference to one of Talladega’s all too frequent big wrecks that could take out the Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet and Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet — the three cars in front of Busch in the Chase.

Still fighting

“We’re still fighting for a chance to get back in this thing too,” Busch said. “Obviously, if the 11, the 29 and 48 are all huddled around each other and I’m somewhere else, I would rather see them (wreck) and me be able to catch back up in points.”

Realizing what he had said Busch tried valiantly to put a better spin on it.

“You don’t really wish that upon anybody and hopefully it’s a good, clean race for all of us and it just plays out the way it should play out,’ he said.

The cat, so to speak, was out of the bag and Busch had to admit that he sees Sunday’s race as his “last chance” to get back into the championship picture and when it comes down to winning or helping Hamlin he’ll take winning every time.

“You look at what can happen here and obviously you take advantage of this place and say that you can make up a lot of ground,” he said. “You go to Texas (next week) it’s less realistic. Same thing with Phoenix — Jimmie’s won there four out of the last five times or five out of the last six races or something at Phoenix and then (at) Homestead Denny’s been really good. This is the last shot that we feel like we can make a big gain in points.”

Busch noted that if Hamlin is looking for a partner to draft with on the final laps at Talladega and the two hadn’t worked together to that point, all bets are off.

“I’m probably not a guy that he’s gonna wanna come find at the end of the race,” he said.

Denny Hamlin should take note.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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