It was only last week that NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch was lauded as a sleeper pick in the race for the Championship. Busch had overcome several missteps during the season including a small radio meltdown with his crew chief. It seemed like the veteran driver was well on his way to a Championship or at least in the mix. That all ended at Talladega Superspeedway and Coach Joe Gibbs says he feels for his driver.
Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing and former NFL coach, said that his feelings about the end of Busch's chase run was one of disappointment. While that's not a strange statement from a team owner its especially good for Busch. Coach Gibbs was not talking about being disappointed in his No. 18 driver or the team. He was feeling bad for Kyle. Classic Coach Gibbs.
"Just really disappointed for Kyle," team owner Joe Gibbs said.
"Nothing went our way there, really. … We had our biggest lead with that car and all we had to do was kind of get through with an average day."
Busch entered the Geico 500 with high hopes. He had finished in the top-ten during the first ten races of the Championship Chase. He had moved on in the previous round and seemed to be a lock to move onto round three. All he needed to do was finish 24th or better.
Instead Busch moved his car into a seemingly safe position towards the back of the pack. He ran safe for much of the race while being able to move around as needed. It was clear that he had the car to move forward when he needed to. The plan was wrecked, as was his car, when he was collected in a pile up with 85 laps to go.
He drove his wrecked car to the garage and patiently waited in his hauler as his crew made major repairs. Amazingly, he was able to climb back in his car and head back onto the track but he was 48 lines behind the leaders.
As drivers are eliminated from the Championship chase the questions have begun to pop up if the format is fair or not. The new format for winning the cup involves a group of sixteen drivers that have won races or by points. Those sixteen drivers are the only drivers eligible to win the Sprint Cup Championship. The rest of the drivers in NASCAR are left racing for pride, to impress sponsors, and of course to win.
The ten races that make up the chase are broken into three race segments. The bottom four drivers after each round are eliminated. That leaves one race with four remaining drivers battling for the win and the title of Champion. Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers praised his driver as a team leader and said the Chase is what it is. They all signed up for it and knew what had to be done.
"It's a fair format because they give us the rules before the Daytona 500," Rogers said.
"We all signed up to play. … I'm bitter and I'm discouraged, but I'm not going to sit there and say it's unfair. The rules are the rules; they didn't change them halfway through Talladega."