The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Auto Racing

July 14, 2013

Kurt Busch storms into contention for Chase

LOUDON, N.H. — Kurt Busch has lost rides with top teams. He’s paid the price for losing his cool more times than anyone in NASCAR can count.

Busch, though, has never lost his ability to drive.

He’s kept his composure, kept that superior skill behind the wheel and kept pace this season with the best in the Cup series.

Yes, Jimmie Johnson is again the driver to beat.

Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth are primed to be in the thick of championships contention.

But look who’s lurking not too far behind. Just the 2004 Cup champion who’s found a home at Furniture Row Racing and found a regular spot running up front to put NASCAR on notice that he can still be as good as it gets in a stock car.

Busch is ninth in the points standings entering Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He’ll start second in the No. 78 Chevrolet at a track where he has three career victories — and he has win No. 1 of this season in sight.

Busch has reeled off three straight top-six finishes and has five top 10s in his last seven races to storm into contention and up the standings.

“For us to be in the Chase is a huge accomplishment for a single-car organization,” Busch said. “For me, it’s great to be back in the Chase and the fraternity of guys I’m accustomed to hanging out with over the years.”

With 24 career Cup wins, Busch had long proven himself as one of the top drivers in the sport.

But he’s had more teams (2) than wins (0) the last two seasons and hasn’t pulled into Victory Lane since winning the fall 2011 race at Dover.

He has plenty of time to take the checkered flag this season — not that he necessarily needs a win to make the Chase. With eight races left until the 12-driver field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Busch just needs to keep the steady top 10s coming to stick around.

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