By admin | January 13, 2009
By Richard Allen
Over the next few days and weeks I will be presenting a review of 2008 and a preview of 2009 for each of the drivers and teams who appear to be set for a full time run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For the most part these pieces will run in order by car number. If you should miss out on your favorite driver simply type his name into the search box at the upper right hand portion of the website.
#18- Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch will be back with all the same team elements that proved so successful last year.
Coming into 2008 there were two major questions surrounding this team. One, could any team be successful with Toyota? Two, could Busch harness his considerable talent and channel it in a positive direction? For the most part, the answers to both of those questions was positive.
In the early stages of 2008, Busch looked unstoppable. He won eight races in the first 2/3 of the season. Unfortunately for him, that is where the winning stopped. At the same time Jimmie Johnson was making what has now become his routine late season charge, Busch and the #18 team fell apart.
Crashes, mechanical troubles and unforced errors caused bad finish after bad finish during the Chase for the Championship. Busch was only able to manage a 10th place result in the final standings.
Busch recorded eight wins, 17 Top 5s and 21 Top 10s in 2008. Impressive numbers when it is taken into account that the vast majority of his success came in the first 26 races.
The question going into 2009 for this team is, was their early success of last year a fluke, or was it the failure of the Chase that was outside the norm?
It seems most likely that after a couple of poor finishes early in the Chase this driver and team started pressing which led to uncharacteristic mistakes. This team will regain its form at some point in 2009. They will win races and contend for the title again.
As a matter of fact, Busch is my pick to win the Daytona 500.(Listen to pod cast from left sidebar)
About midway through last season I heard a commentator on the radio say that no matter what happens from here on out 2008 will be remembered as the season of Kyle Busch. Instead, the season will probably be remembered as the season of Buschâ€™s Chase collapse.
That commentator, nor anyone else, could have foreseen the disaster that would befall Busch in the Chase. Now, to be considered a truly great driver and this a truly great team, they need to carry any early season success they may have through to the very end. My guess is, they will learn to do that, if not in 2009 then sometime in the future. Busch has plenty of time.
Driver: Kyle Busch
Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing
Sponsor: M&Mâ€™s, Pedigree and Interstate Batteries
Crew Chief: Steve Addington
Scanner Frequencies(?): 467.4500 & 462.4500
Chances of making the Chase for the Championship: Heâ€™ll be there
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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