Kyle Busch's wild card chances dimmed when he hit the wall on Lap 19 of Sunday's Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono. After climbing from 20th to 10th, Busch had a part failure in the rear of the car that flattened the left-rear tire and he pancaked the Turn 1 wall.
"Just disintegrated a rear brake rotor and blew through the caliper after that, so going down into Turn 1, the fastest part of the racetrack and you have three wheel brakes it ain't too much fun," Busch said.
"But, just the way our year's been going. It's kind of our luck. I hate it for all these guys, everybody at M&Ms, but what do you do?"
When Busch had made those comments, his main competition for the second wildcard position were still Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, the other two drivers with a win between 11th and 20th in the standings. After the checkered flag flew, Jeff Gordon joined them in the one-win category, and for the time being, leapfrogged Busch, Logano and Newman for the final wild card spot.
Because of his ability to reel off wins in bunches, Busch has been considered to be the favorite for that second spot for some time. And despite myriad of parts failures, had been able to cling to the position. Now, after yet another mechanical miscue, he's on the outside looking in with five races to go.
After reeling off four straight top fives from Richmond to Charlotte, Busch hadn't finished any higher than 10th in seven races before last week's second place at Indianapolis, a finish that vaulted him to 11th in the points standings. However, Sunday's 33rd-place finish canceled it out and Busch is now 15th, 12 points behind both Gordon and Newman and 24 points ahead of Logano.
While Busch may not have seemed to optimistic after climbing out of the car on Sunday — his comments sounded quite Tony Stewart-ish from Michigan of last year — all isn't certainly lost, especially if the team doesn't have any reliability issues in the next five weeks. But now he's behind not one, but two direct competitors for the final Chase position.