Busch, the inaugural champion under the Chase format, scored a victory in March’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Although Busch locked himself into the post-season 20 races before the Chase grid was set, the driver’s regular season featured inconsistency, with five DNFs in the first 12 races.
The 2004 champion never peaked above 19th in points during the regular season, but posted seven top-ten finishes in 26 races.
Yet, using the rest of the regular season to build chemistry with his team and first-year crew chief Daniel Knost, the team used much of the regular season as research and development to get ready for the Chase.
“Our team has developed over the year,” he said. “We won a race earlier this year, and it surprised us all to make that happen because the team was not ready, honestly.”
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Kurt Busch practices for the Daytona 500 in the No. 41 Haas-CNC Chevrolet.
Treating last Saturday night’s race at Richmond like a Chase race, Busch started and finished inside the top-ten.
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Kurt Busch celebrates his victory at Martinsville in March.
Busch said if he and his team can post three top-ten finishes to start the Chase, they can make it on to the next round. Plus, Busch has a fellow SHR teammate in the Chase, allowing the two to possibly work together.
“We’ve tested Chicago, we’ve tested Loudon, we’re going to test Miami, we’re going to test Charlotte,” Busch said. “We’ve got a great teammate with Kevin Harvick to lean on.”