By admin | September 21, 2008
By Richard Allen
Since NASCAR began using the Chase for the Championship format in 2004 there may not have ever been a driver who entered the playoff as heavily favored as Kyle Busch did this year.
Coming into the 2008 version of the playoff, he had eight wins which had secured for him 80 bonus points. Those points gave him a 30 point lead over Carl Edwards and a 40 point advantage over Jimmie Johnson. And more, he had a seemingly insurmountable lead over everyone else. It almost appeared as though he could take one full race off and still win the title.
Well, with the second Chase race now in the books, he has essentially taken two races off.
Handling difficulties caused by a broken sway bar mount led to a long day and a 34th place result for the pre Chase favorite in New Hampshire. Although it was certainly not the way Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing team would have wanted to start the Chase off, it was not a title hopes killer because of the big lead he had going in.
However, what the poor finish in New Hampshire did was create a situation in which the #18 team could not afford any more off races.
It only took until the next race for that unacceptable poor finish to occur. A blown engine landed the Toyota in 43rd place in the Camping World RV 400. That last place effort has placed the team in the 12th spot of the standings, 210 behind leader Carl Edwards.
Large deficits have been overcome before. However, with the Chase format there are so many people ahead of Busch. Unlike in the pre Chase years, he does not have to beat one or two drivers, he has to beat eleven. That is a daunting task. In all likelihood, too daunting. Even for a guy who looked like Superman, or at least Indiana Jones earlier this year.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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