Sep 21, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Kyle Busch has forged a reputation as one of the more intense competitors in the Sprint Cup garage, so one can imagine how he felt about missing the Chase for the Sprint Cup last season.
But in the year or so since that dark moment, Busch believes that he and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team have been able to gain the confidence necessary to contend in NASCAR’s post-season stretch.
On Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he appeared to indicate that his optimism comes from the strong results he had in the final 10 events of 2012. In that stretch, he racked up seven Top-5 and eight Top-10 finishes.
“Throughout the  Chase, we had a lot of really good runs, so that all put us in the sense that we can do this,” Busch said. “It’s not rocket science. We know how to race, we know how to run upfront and when the pressure is on the line, obviously, that situation is going to be a little different.
“But we need to act as though the pressure isn’t on the line or to just be able to do what we’ve done all year long that’s got us to this point in the first 26 races.”
Busch was second to winner Brian Vickers earlier this summer at New Hampshire, and will roll off 12th for tomorrow’s Sylvania 300 at NHMS after finishing second to teammate Matt Kenseth in the first Chase race last weekend at Chicagoland.
That puts him eight markers off of his JGR compatriot in the championship, but like Kenseth, he too isn’t thinking about the points picture this early on.
“We know last week was a second-place, but as far as points are concerned and everything else, it’s not the time to look at any of that or worry about any of that,” he said.
“So, for ourselves, I don’t know where I am and I don’t want to know where I am. But I think it will all take care of itself when it comes down to crunch time and the better you can perform and do on Sundays, then it’s going to take care of itself a lot easier.”