It’s good to be a Busch Brother these days.
Kyle Busch knows that NASCAR chairman Brian France has his back when it comes to qualifying for the Chase.
Kurt Busch knows that he has a solid shot at advancing to the Chase after his victory in Richmond this past weekend.
Honk if you saw this coming in February. In a crazy 24-hour span, Kurt and Kyle both got bushwhacked before the Cup season began during Speedweeks in Daytona.
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Kurt was suspended on a late Friday afternoon in conjunction with allegations of domestic abuse involving his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. Kyle suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a broken left foot after hitting an unprotected wall in the infield during the Xfinity Series race the following day.
Kurt appealed the suspension in hopes of reversing the jolting aftershock that included Chevrolet, his car manufacturer, severing ties with him. As the appeal went on, Kyle was having surgery at Halifax Medical Center – just blocks away from his brother.
Fast-forward to today’s reality: Kurt Busch is now a championship contender after charges were never filed and he was reinstated following the first three races of the season. Kyle is still on the mend and has yet to race, but France made it clear last week that special circumstances will be taken into account regarding Chase eligibility.
“Depends on when he comes back, of course, but it'll be more likely than not that we’re going to try to figure out how to accommodate him, which is the beauty of our playoff system,” France said. “What happened to him was on us. We'll balance a lot of things at that point when we have to make a decision, but we’re inclined to want to figure that out for sure.”
Busch is likely to get a waiver from the NASCAR rule stipulating that a driver must be in the top 30 in the points standings to be eligible for the 10-race postseason. But he must win a race to qualify for the postseason before the cutoff is set following the first 26 races.
Although Busch is now moving without a walker, no timetable has been set for his return to Joe Gibbs Racing.
His older brother, meanwhile, is off and running. Kurt has a victory and three Top 5 finishes in six races despite the rough early going.
“Standing on the truth the whole time, that gave me the feeling of when I do get back to the car, it’s going to be easy to focus, and I think I’ve shown that,” Busch said. “And it’s great to have a victory.”
Done. But Busch knows he is under a bit of pressure from co-owner Gene Haas.
“He'll joke around and say, ‘All right, that’s one win. Where is more?' We want to win more. We want to win more often. We want to be ready for anything that comes our way on making pit calls, two tires, four tires, restarts, inside, outside,” Busch said. “We want to be that universal team that’s ready for any circumstance or any situation, and that way we can advance through the Chase and be a competitive team for the championship.”