Aug 30, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Last weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway was the nadir of a horrendous month for Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team.
The Irwin Tools Night Race had Busch penalized early for speeding, collected in a multi-car crash, and engaged in a spat over the radio with crew chief Dave Rogers before finishing 36th – his fourth consecutive finish outside of the Top 35.
Busch may already be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup by virtue of his win earlier this season at Fontana.
But out of the 12 drivers that have clinched post-season berths, he may be the one in most need of a good performance this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
He got a good start on the weekend yesterday when he qualified eighth for Sunday night’s Oral-B USA 500.
“Our first [run] was by far our best of the three we made in qualifying,” he said. “We just were wrecking loose out of the turns and it made it hard to be aggressive.
“It’s still a good effort…And definitely better than where we were in practice today.”
Busch can take confidence from the fact that he won at Atlanta last season, aided by a superb late pit stop that allowed him to take the lead.
The bad news is that JGR’s former Midas touch on 1.5-mile ovals is no longer so, thanks in part to a lack of engine performance compared to those teams with Hendrick engines and the Roush Yates-powered Team Penske.
That part was something Busch had noted during the week.
“We’re not quite where we need to be with our mile-and-a-half stuff, but Atlanta is one of those places where anything can happen,” he said in a release.
“You have to have good grip, you have to have good fall-off – you have to be fast to start a run yet you don’t want to fall off more than anybody else – so you have to take care of your stuff and bide your time a little bit. That lends itself to options by the driver to either push hard early or save a little and be there late.”
Grip, pace, and patience are all important, but after last week’s frustrations, the last one will be most critical for Busch.
He sometimes seem to thrive on the controversy he generates (and you’ve shown in the comments section this week that he can generate a lot).
But with two races to go before the Chase and with his team in a tailspin, now’s not the time for that.
Now is the time for him to put up a big result and get the 18 camp back on solid footing before the championship stakes are raised.
Apr 18, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Despite expecting to struggle in Bahrain, Sainz will start the race from ninth place on Sunday.
Apr 18, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Grosjean believes he could have qualified higher up the grid, but is pleased to have maintained his 100% Q3 record in 2015.
Apr 18, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT
Simon Pagenaud led IndyCar’s final practice session in Long Beach.
Apr 18, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT
Daniel Ricciardo fares far better in the sister Red Bull, qualifying seventh in Bahrain.
Apr 18, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Former Red Bull driver believes that the focus should not be on tire management, but instead on driver ability and pace.
Apr 18, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Rosberg misses out on the front row for the second time in three races, exposing Mercedes to the threat from Ferrari in the race.
Apr 18, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT
Conor Daly gets a last-minute IndyCar shot with Dale Coyne Racing.
Apr 18, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Four-time world champion qualified second for the Bahrain Grand Prix, splitting the Mercedes drivers at the front of the grid.
Apr 18, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
The defending F1 world champion feels more at ease with this year’s car in Bahrain, allowing him to dominate qualifying on Saturday.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
John Booth says that the long-term future of the team is being planned and secured thanks to fresh investment.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:02 AM EDT
The defending world champion edges out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in FP3 ahead of qualifying later today.
Apr 18, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT
Mercedes and Ferrari continue to exchange blows in Bahrain, but who will get the upper hand ahead of qualifying?
Apr 17, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
Ricky Taylor, Bill Auberlen secure pole positions for Round 3 of TUDOR Championship season in Long Beach.
Apr 17, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Some good banter between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power occurs during post-practice press conference, as the two laugh off their contact here last year.
Apr 17, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT
Power leads second practice in Long Beach.
Apr 17, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
Five in a row for the McLaren junior driver as he starts the 2015 season in style.
Apr 17, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
Ferrari’s long run pace suggests that Mercedes may not have it all its own way on Sunday.
- Simon Pagenaud fastest in IndyCar’s final Long Beach practice 0
- Hamilton eases to fourth straight pole position in Bahrain 0
- Hamilton closes out Bahrain GP practice on top 0
- INDYCAR confirms more aero kit updates coming to Long Beach 1
- Rocky Moran Jr. to replace Huertas in Coyne’s No. 18 for Long Beach 7
- Rosberg heads up Mercedes one-two in Bahrain FP2 1
- Kimi Raikkonen quickest in first practice for Bahrain GP 2