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Kyle Busch likes his chances to reach Chase for the Cup

He's just outside the top 12 in the points standings for NASCAR's playoff. But he has had success at the tracks where the final two qualifying races will be held.

September 04, 2009|JIM PELTZ | ON MOTOR RACING

Kyle Busch was cruising into NASCAR's playoff a year ago as an odds-on favorite to win the Sprint Cup Series championship -- he didn't, finishing 10th.

But this season Busch is in danger of missing the Chase for the Cup entirely. NASCAR's most controversial driver is 34 points behind the 12th spot in the standings, held by Matt Kenseth.

And it will be the top 12 drivers, after the next two races in Atlanta and Richmond, Va., who qualify for the 10-race Chase playoff that starts Sept. 20 in New Hampshire.

But Busch likes his chances of leapfrogging into the coveted top 12 and making the Chase, starting with Sunday night's race on the 1.5-mile, high-banked Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Busch, 24, won the spring race in Atlanta last year, although this year he was 18th in the spring race that was won by his older brother, Kurt Busch.

Kurt arrives in Atlanta sixth in the standings and is likely assured a spot in the Chase.

Kyle Busch also won this year's spring race at the Richmond International Raceway, one of his four Cup victories this season, and he's coming off a win at the series' most recent race at another short track, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. "We feel like Richmond will be really strong and we feel like we can do the same thing we did at Bristol," he said.

The other drivers at the bottom of the top-12 list also are under pressure to finish well in Atlanta in order to make the Chase. The drivers ninth through 12th are Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Kenseth, respectively.

Right on Busch's tail in 14th is Brian Vickers, who jumped in the standings after winning at Michigan three weeks ago and now trails Busch by only five points and Kenseth's 12th spot by 39 points. "Now, we just need to make the Chase. I think we're capable of it," Vickers said.

Vickers coincidentally has been feuding with Kyle Busch lately, including exchanging barbs after a race in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series at Michigan last month. A frustrated Busch labeled Vickers' racing "stupid" and said "that's what you get racing with idiots."

Vickers, in turn, said Busch was "crying like a little baby."

The Atlanta Motor Speedway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but this will be the first time the track has hosted a Sprint Cup race at night. Atlanta's second race of the season had been held in October, but this season the race was swapped for the Labor Day weekend race formerly held at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

The Fontana race, the Pepsi 500, was moved to Oct. 11 this year and will be the fourth race in the Chase.


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