Opinion: Critical Point for Busch

Kyle Busch

Busch is currently fifth in the standings. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Napoleon had Waterloo.  Kyle Busch has Kansas Speedway.

Whether or not the track in "The Sunflower State" turns out to be Busch’s ultimate demise in this year’s championship race remains to be seen.

Make no mistake, Busch’s title hopes are more than on the ropes after an unbelievably awful Kansas weekend.  His 34th-place finish drop-kicked Busch from third in the standings to fifth, but more importantly 35 points behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and Chase leader Matt Kenseth with only six races left.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Busch in 2013.  After several opportunities to compete for the crown only to have the wheels come off (one year literally) once the playoffs began, this season was going to be different.

The latest incarnation of the "new Kyle" was finally going to be enough to get over the hump that had derailed previous championship aspirations.  Things got off to a more-than-solid start with finishes of second, second and fifth to open the Chase.

Then came Kansas.

The list of things that went wrong over the weekend is a long one: a crash in practice, an incident and rekindled feud with Brad Keselowski in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, damage in an opening-lap accident that knocked Danica Patrick out of the Hollywood Casino 400, a mid-race tangle with Juan Pablo Montoya and then finally, the knockout punch of a crash on Lap 200.

Busch didn’t do himself any favors dumping Keselowski and starting a rivalry with the Penske Racing driver, even though it's exactly what the sport has needed for a while.  Keselowski immediately started to play mind games with Busch, vowing retaliation and asking NASCAR officials in Sunday’s drivers meeting how payback would be penalized.

The last thing Busch needs is another distraction, however entertaining it may be for fans to watch two of the sport’s brashest drivers battle each other both on and off the track.

Somehow, Busch needs to find a way to put everything that happened last weekend behind and rebound Saturday night at Charlotte.  It’s imperative to his Sprint Cup career that he finds a way to get back in the title picture and challenge for the crown.

Busch can win 100 more Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races before hanging up his helmet and it won’t matter at all.  The bottom line is what he does at the top level of NASCAR, performing on the main stage.

For now, Busch’s career is nothing more than a series of "buts" ... as in "He’s a great driver, BUT he has emotional issues," or "Busch is one of the best wheelmen ever, BUT he can’t harness his aggression," or "Busch can win everything there is to win BUT a Sprint Cup championship."

It’s up to Busch to put an end to that talk and prove he can, once and for all, compete with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Keselowski; and be able to cope with adversity on the way to winning the title.

Kansas can be a bump in the road or yet another example of what has, until now, defined Busch at the Sprint Cup level.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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