Coming off his worst finish since the Southern 500, and in real danger of missing the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he doesn't do a quick about-face, Kyle Busch vowed Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to become more of a leader for his #18 team.
Unaware that he had lost two spring rubbers from the right rear of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Busch fought the handling of his Toyota at Chicagoland Speedway and ultimately gave up on the car. His day ended with a blown engine and a 33rd-place finish, his worst since running 34th at Darlington. Now he says he has to become better at dealing with adversity and making the best of a bad day.
“Our bad weeks are bad - they're real bad,” Busch said, “You can't have super bad days. If you're having a bad day, then you need to make a tenth out of it, and we're not very good at that. I'm not very good at that, and I don't think our team is very good at that.
“Maybe that's because of me, maybe I'm not leading it in the right direction. I've got some things that I've got to try to work on to make ourselves better and ultimately more championship-calibre.”
Busch, who is currently tenth in the Cup standings, had a banner season in 2008, winning eight races, but his team fell apart when the Chase began. This year, he has three victories, second best in the Cup series, but of little consequence if he fails to qualify for the Chase and can't use the ten-point bonus Chase drivers get for each win.
On aggregate, Busch has put forth the best qualifying effort of his career this season, with an average starting position of 8.5, but lacking are the finishes, where the average of 17.0 is his worst since 2005, Busch's first full season of Cup racing.
Busch hasn't had a problem with finishes in the Nationwide Series, where he has three victories and four runner-up finishes in the seven races leading up to Saturday night's race at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. The latest win came at Gateway International Raceway one week after the disappointment at Chicago.
“I need to become a better person in being able to pull our team together and lead these guys and, ultimately, lead them back into the Chase,” Busch said of his Cup effort, “[Chicago] was a bad week, but [we] went on into Gateway and ran solid up there and we won that one. Hopefully, we can get back to some good ways here.”
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service