"We missed ... plain and simple," he said, batting away suggestions from his team owner Joe Gibbs that he had to face the disappointment and handle it in the right way. "There's no right way to handle this situation," replied Busch.
Instead, the nine drivers previously locked in to the Chase - Bowyer, Hamlin, Johnson, Keselowski, Biffle, Earnhardt, Kenseth, Harvick and Truex - are now joined by Tony Stewart and by wildcard team mates Kahne and Gordon as the dozen drivers competing for the 2012 title. Left on the sidelines are some notable names including Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Marcos Ambrose, who will have to wait for another year to try and win the championship.
As for 2012: battle proper commences next weekend with the GEICO 400 on Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway.
Full race results
and championship standings