It's been one hell of a whiplash year for Kurt Busch. For every strong run, he's had godawful performances; for every week where it all ran smoothly, he's had a week where his team looked, in his memorable terms, like a monkey "interacting" with a football.
Busch has one win on the season, plus seven top 5s and 14 top 10s. He spent a couple weeks at the top of the rankings early in the season, dropped as low as 8th, worked his way back up to third, fell back to 8th ... you get the idea.
At any moment, Busch can get hot (no, we're not talking about his temper, though that fits too) and tear off (sorry) a few low-single-digit races. If he can do that at the right time, he'll make life a little uneasy for his fellow Chasers, particularly since he has absolutely zero interest in playing nice with most other drivers.
Urt's best Chase track: Phoenix, where he's got an average finish of 12.9. That's a good track to count among your best, because he'll need to finish strong ... as long as he hasn't already fallen out of the Chase by then.
Urt's worst Chase track: Martinsville, where his average finish is a gut-kicking 21.1. Conventional wisdom holds that a sub-20 finish will torpedo your chances; Busch needs to run far above his average to keep his hopes alive.
Key question: Can Busch harness his own worst instincts? Like Kevin Harvick, Busch has a tendency to focus on external matters rather than internal ones, and the Chase isn't the time for making points or evening scores. Deal with that at SpeedWeeks next year; run for the Cup for now.
JB's prediction: 7th. The Chase is a game of millimeters, and Busch's constant give-and-take with his team, and with certain other drivers, keeps everyone from fully focusing on the task at hand.
- Kurt Busch