Kyle Busch Facing Elimination This Weekend at Kansas

Kyle Busch will start eighth in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The four-round elimination-style Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs can chew a driver up and spit him out in no time.

Kyle Busch knows this as well as anyone.

The No. 18 Toyota driver entered the Playoffs third in the points standings and looked like the favorite to take the series crown after winning twice in the Round of 16.

But his situation changed rapidly in the Round of 12. Busch finished 29th at Charlotte, followed by a 27th-place performance at Talladega. Now, he sits on the brink of elimination – seven points behind Jimmie Johnson for the final Round of 8 transfer spot going into Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

"We are still some points out but we can go out there and try and get as many stage points as possible and, if we get a good run, we still have a shot to make it through," Busch said. "We'll just have to do what we've been doing all year and see where that puts us.

"It sucks that you work all year long in order to build your point cushion and your stage points and your race wins and everything for Talladega, because everybody knows for Talladega we're all building that. Then I have Charlotte happen. Unfortunately, it's my fault that we had Charlotte happen. If we would have finished eighth, let's say, at Charlotte, we wouldn't be talking about it. We would have used up our point cushion that we had at Talladega like we built it for."

Luckily for Busch, Kansas has treated him well recently. Although struggling at the 1.5-mile track early in his career, Busch has finished no lower than fifth in his last five starts there. His run includes a Kansas win in the spring of 2016.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] "We're going to do the same things we've always done – same preparation, nothing different," Busch said. "I think we need to go in there and do our best to be prepared and when it comes to race time, try to limit our mistakes. I think that helped out there over the years and that has turned our team into a contender every time we race there, now. We'll just do the same things this time around.

"We still have a chance, we're still open, we're still viable. We can still come through here and win or finish second in every round and hopefully advance. We'll see. We just got to race it out."

The only way Busch can advance to the Round of 12 without the help of other drivers is to win Sunday's race. He qualified in the eighth position in Friday's qualifying, so he doesn't have that far to go to take a stab at leading the race.

"Challenging aspects all through the weekend. That's what makes it intense and a bit unpredictable, if you will," said Busch. "Hopefully the speed that we've shown so far this weekend in our M&M's Camry has been pretty good. I would love to make sure we're one of the guys that's moving on, one of the top eight to the next round of the Playoffs.

"We've done our job all this year to build our points up and do the best possible job we know how to do because you always know you're supposed to build that point cushion for Talladega. As crazy as it is in this world, we all plan for one race to knock us out of the Playoffs. That seems to be the race that will knock us out again. We'll have to fight through it this weekend in Kansas and try to do it to get enough points so we can out do the two guys in front of us if nobody else has trouble and go from there."

Kyle Busch's one-of-a-kind Halloween-themed helmet
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

As is customary every season around this time of year, Busch's no. 18 Toyota Camry will feature a Halloween-themed M&M's paint scheme. Busch also had a custom-made helmet made for the occasion.

The helmet, designed by Busch and noted artist Jason Beam, is a one-of-a-kind piece that features the typical Halloween icons, including Frankenstein prominently on the rear of the helmet.

Busch will wear the helmet for the next two races, and will then raffle off the helmet to a lucky fan – with proceeds going to benefit the Kyle Busch Foundation.

"It's a one of a kind piece. There's only going to be one made," said Busch. "We're going to cap the tickets at 2000 so everybody knows what their odds are in winning and being able to have a piece of history here."

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