Kyle Busch Clinches at Least a Wild Card Spot

Kyle Busch Wins at Michigan

Kyle Busch outlasted Jimmie Johnson on the final restart to record his fourth victory of the season and clinched a wild card spot at the very least. Just three races remain before the Chase field is set (photo courtesy: Geoff Burke, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)

With Michigan last weekend’s stop on “The Road to a Miami Championship,” the attention continues to focus on the Wild Card element.  There are only three races left for the “bubble” drivers to make their mark and race their way into the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
 
Once the checkered flag waves at Richmond September 10, the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, call (866) 409-RACE.

Kyle Busch really wanted a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Michigan. After six years racing on the circuit and 13 Sprint Cup Series race starts at Michigan, Busch finally got his wish by taking the checkered flag on Sunday.

“Awesome!” Busch responded as if at a loss for words. “Certainly it feels good to win here at Michigan. We’ve been trying so hard to do it. Our teammate (Denny Hamlin) has been able to do it but we haven’t.”

Busch had a comfortable lead after pulling away from Jimmie Johnson with three laps remaining, however, a late-race caution caused a green-white-checker finish after his brother, Kurt, hit the wall. Busch had to sweat the double-file green-white-checker restart with five-time Sprint Cup champion Johnson next to him. Lurking directly behind them were Brad Keselowski and Mark Martin.

He kept his cool, held off Johnson and registered his fourth victory of the season. It was also his 23rd triumph in 245 Sprint Cup starts, helping him clinch at least one of the two wild card spots for the Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship. There are three races left to determine those drivers eligible for the Chase For The Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, call (866) 409-RACE.

It was the third win in the last four races at Michigan for Joe Gibbs Racing, with last year’s Sprint Cup Championship runner-up Hamlin capturing the last two June Sprint Cup races. Busch’s margin of victory over Johnson was just over one-half second.

“I got away from Kyle toward the end of the race but my car was sliding pretty much and I knew my rear tires weren’t going to last long enough with about 24 laps left,” Johnson explained. “Eventually he got up to me. On the last restart I had a shot again starting right next to him but I couldn’t make it happen on the bottom through turns one and two and I just brought it home from there. All in all it was a very strong performance for us and a very big day for the confidence of the team and myself to really recover from a slow start and turn it around.”

Keselowski, like Johnson, had problems early in the race but finally got things sorted out enough to become a solid contender, finishing third.

“I wish I had something more for the 48 (Johnson) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) at the end, but I was just really watching and hoping someone would make a mistake.” said Keselowski. “I couldn’t do anything on my own merit.”

Traditionally, Michigan is the site for the first drivers to clinch a spot in the 12-driver Chase field. But with three races remaining before the 10-race Chase, Kyle Busch was the only driver to gain a spot in the field today.

Johnson jumped to second in the points standings behind Busch with Kevin Harvick third and Carl Edwards fourth, falling from second with a problem-plagued 36th-place finish. Jeff Gordon moved up from seventh to sixth with his sixth-place finish. Ryan Newman also gained a spot, up to seventh, while Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart retained their Top-10 status, respectively.

Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, call (866) 409-RACE.

There are three races left to determine those drivers eligible for the Chase For The Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, call (866) 409-RACE.

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