Kyle Busch Looks for Rebound

Kyle Busch

"There are still nine more weeks – nine long weeks – to go, but I know this team is focused and we’ll try to have another good race at New Hampshire." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Things didn’t go well for Kyle Busch in last weekend’s opening race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and he’s hoping for a better day Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Despite having the fastest car of the weekend and winning the pole, Busch had to settle for a 15th-place finish after issues on pit road in the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. It was a bitter way to kick off his quest for a second series title, but the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has put things in the rear-view mirror.

"We had a good car and circumstances didn’t play out for us to get back up to the front," Busch said. "It’s good that we were able to recover and finish as well as we did. You want to have a top-15 finish in the first round and it will get you through. There are  nine more weeks – nine long weeks – to go, but I know this team is focused and we’ll try to keep up some positive momentum from the last several weeks."

The Chicagoland finish placed Busch fifth in the playoff standings with a healthy 35-point buffer over his brother Kurt in 13th place. But Busch knows there are no guarantees, even though he has a comfortable advantage in the standings.

"You’ve got to have one or the other," he said about either being able to win or being consistent in the playoffs. "If you haven’t got consistency, then you better be winning. If you’re having consistency, then you don’t have to be winning. But there’s nothing better than being able to win and move yourself automatically."

In 25 career Cup Series starts at New Hampshire, Busch has nine top-five finishes and 13 top 10s including a pair of wins. Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 is one of the shortest races on the schedule, leaving no room for error around the 1.058-mile oval.

"At Loudon, you’re looking at how good your fuel mileage is and you have to look at when you have to make your last pit stop since that’s what everyone looks at," Busch explained. "You end up running it almost like a road-course race because you want to be the first guy on the last round of stops to pit. You want to get in there, get your tires and fuel, and then stay out the rest of the race and keep your track position since it’s so important there.

"It’s so hard to pass there. You can be two-tenths faster than a guy and not be able to pass him because everyone typically runs the same speed. You’ll have it where the leader might be a tenth (of a second) better than the second-place guy, but everyone is separated by so little that it takes a mistake on someone’s part in order to pass them."

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