Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson both have their sights set on winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
The Ganassi organization joins Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske as teams with all its drivers qualified for the post-season.
Busch made it in his first year driving Ganassi’s No. 1 Chevrolet, a ride he took over from Jamie McMurray. The 2004 series champion is making his 12th career playoff appearance and has competed in the last seven straight.
“I feel like everybody’s goal at the beginning of the year is to be a race winner with multiple race wins,” said Busch, who won at Kentucky Speedway in July for his only victory of the season so far. “We haven’t quite done that yet. But again, we use these first 26 races on the No. 1 car to grow as a team and to build that chemistry; to win races, to lose races, and to build us up to get to this point.
“I feel like we’re in that spot that we wanted to be. So now, it’s a matter of executing through these ten weeks and being consistent. And so, I like where we are. Early in the year we exceeded expectations and now we’ve just got to get to that consistency level to surprise people as we move through the playoffs.”
Busch finished eighth in the regular-season standings with 11 playoff points. He understands how grueling the 10-race playoff schedule is and plan to approach it with strategy.
“It’s a matter of just pacing yourself,” he said. “Each and every day is a lead up toward the race weekend. There’s the workouts. There’s the nutrition. There’s the extra sleep that you need. And you focus.
“Right now it’s a date in September, but I know that November 17th is that key factor of pacing yourself all the way to Homestead. And that’s the goal. It’s just staying consistent and staying smooth and not getting ahead of yourself.”
Larson went through the regular season without a victory and qualified for the playoffs through the point standings, where he finished 11th. It’s his fourth playoff appearance and Larson hopes to keep his recent string of solid finishes – eight top-10’s in the last 11 races – going as the post-season begins Sunday with the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“Yeah, just to go there and have a good race and get some stage points,” Larson explained. “We are typically good at Vegas, so I like it being the first race of the playoffs because you will get set with the rhythm and momentum that you need to have the confidence to go on to the next two races.”
Larson is in pursuit of his first career Cup championship and may believe he has his best chance to accomplish the goal this season.
“Well, in 2017 we went into the playoffs with four wins and a lot of stage points and playoff points and I felt like we had a good opportunity then,” he said. “But we had a ton of bad luck in that playoff year.
“But this year I feel like our cars are equal or better than where we were at this point in 2017. And I felt like we had a shot to contend for it then. So, I think this is as good of a shot, even though I don’t have as many Playoff points as I had that year. But we have a good opportunity.”