|Kyle Busch en route to victory at Sonoma Raceway|
It's about 90 minutes after The Toyota/Save Mart 350 concluded with Kyle Busch taking his first victory of 2015. Sonoma Raceway is clearing out although there are many in the media here still grinding away at their laptops.
During the winner's one topic of conversation was the possibility of Busch making The Chase. Remember, NASCAR granted Busch an exemption after his injury at Daytona in February which caused him to miss the first 11 races of this season so long as Busch:
1. won a race
2. finished in the top-30 in points
Of course, criteria 1 was fulfilled today. As for criteria 2…
Busch was very clear in saying "it's feasible" when asked about his chances. Of course, you would expect a race car driver to echo that sentiment. However, is Busch finishing in the top-30 realistic as he indicates? Let's look at some the math involved.
To begin, Busch currently sits 37th in the standings with 125 points, 136 points behind 30th place Cole Whitt. Whitt has run all 16 races and scored 261 points, an average of 16.3 points per race.
Busch has run 5 races since returning from injury so his 125 points average works out to a nice even 25 points per race. Or stated another way: 9 points better on average than Whitt.
Now, if both drivers were to maintain that average over the course of the next 10 races before The Chase, Busch would be SOL so to speak. He would gain a mere 90 points on Whitt and fall short. But…
Even with today's win Busch's first five races back have been from a points perspective, somewhat pedestrian. If we take Busch's 25 points per race average and project it over 16 races it puts him right around teammate Carl Edwards, who sits 17th in the standings.
As for a reference of what Busch needs to average…
Again projecting a 14-point difference over Whitt through 10 races, Busch would need to score slightly more than 30 points a race, or about what eighth-place Kasey Kahne has averaged so far. For what it's worth, Kahne has had a consistent if unspectacular year with no finish better than fourth and six top-10s. However, he has only two finishes outside the top-30, the same as Busch.
Inevitably, Busch was asked if having a win in the bank would encourage him to change the way he raced. Nothing his DNFs at Dover and Michigan, Busch said "We can't have any more of those. That's obvious…
"Now having a win, you know, obviously, I think that treats us a little bit better. We don't have to race as hard for a win. We don't have to put ourselves in a bad spot when we're running third, fourth or fifth to get that victory. We can run third, fourth or fifth and that's a good day for; that'll be just fine."
Yes, it will be more than just. In fact, Busch doesn't even need to be that good. Being about Kasey Kahne good will work just fine.
I'll be signing off here from shortly. We hope you enjoyed AutoRacing1's coverage this weekend from Sonoma Raceway.
Brian C. reporting for AutoRacing1