Kyle Busch Survive and Advance on Wild Card Weekend
Each January, the National Football League opens its playoffs with what is called “Wild Card Weekend” as four teams that did not win their division but still earned playoff berths get the chance to advance toward their ultimate goal – a Super Bowl championship.
For Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), and his fellow competitors participating in the revamped version of the “NASCAR Playoffs” – the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship – this is “Wild Card Weekend.” Eight of 12 remaining Chase drivers will earn the chance to continue their playoff run by advancing to the Eliminator round starting the following weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
While Busch and his team had their challenges at times during the first 26 regular-season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, they’ve shown come playoff time that they can get the job done when it matters most. Busch’s fifth-place finish at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway last weekend was his fifth consecutive top-10 to start the Chase and his second consecutive top-five. His average finish during this year’s Chase is an impressive 6.6. Additionally, Busch holds at 26-point cushion over the eighth-place cutoff position in the Chase standings heading into Sunday’s elimination race at Talladega.
Being a Las Vegas native, Busch might know a thing or two about wild cards. But, heading into Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, there probably isn’t a track on the circuit that presents as much of an unknown as the mammoth 2.66-mile oval.
Busch has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. In his 19 starts at the track, he has eight other top-15 finishes and four Talladega outings that ended in an accident. So, the Las Vegas native knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will need to have a strong car and some good fortune at NASCAR’s longest track.
If Busch has learned anything at the restrictor-plate tracks, it’s that he must be fortunate enough to avoid the almost inevitable multicar accident. He’s comforted in knowing he has exceptional equipment underneath him, thanks to the No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota provided to him by JGR – a “scary” proposition for the M&M’s Halloween-themed car that’s locked in the championship battle looking to advance to the Eliminator round.
So, as NASCAR prepares for its version of “Wild Card Weekend,” Busch hopes to survive and advance following Talladega as unscathed as humanly possible, then head to the final four-race stretch of the Chase with a solid shot at bringing home his first Sprint Cup championship.
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