The likelihood that Kurt Busch would have to win one of three rounds in the Round of 8 to advance to the championship round of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs became a reality after a Sunday at Kansas Speedway with a broken engine.
Busch left the Hollywood Casino 400 just behind 200 laps when the power unit in his Chip Ganassi Racing No.1 Chevrolet detonated entering Turn 1. A few laps earlier, Busch, who was in the top five, had started. his team that he could smell something in the car and felt that he was losing strength as he lost positions on the scoreboard.
The 2004 champion had long since left his car when Joey Logano hit his ticket to Championship 4 after a thrilling battle with Kevin Harvick in the closing laps. Now, Busch will almost certainly have to rely on a win next week at Texas Motor Speedway or in two weeks at Martinsville Speedway to take another championship.
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Yes, there is usually no warning, Busch said. Everything is so buttoned up in the motorcycle department these days. I haven’t seen an engine problem in years. No one to blame for Hendrick motorcycles; were running fast here. We ran in the top five and there’s a ton of RPM right down the front downwind. We were in the middle of the mix. We did the deal. I just couldn’t quite free some guys to get into the top three or four, and then in the long run our car would come back after about 30 laps.
It’s a shame for everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. Having an engine failure in the Playoffs is like having a huge chute slowing you down. Pack that parachute, throw it away, and head to Texas to win. We knew we would have to win either here or in Texas. Martinsville, we have a shot at it too. The odds stacked against us, but hey, were in the top eight for a reason. I have a great crew chief, Matt McCall, and I’m bouncing back well. It’s just one of those things where you have an engine failure, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
The race went well for Busch in front of the blown up engine. He was seventh in the race warning on lap 25, but was caught for speeding, which prevented him from earning stage points. However, Busch drove back through the field and finished the second stage, in lap 160, in ninth place.
In the first race of the semi-final, Busch was 21 points below the cutline. But after his 38th place in Kansas, Busch dropped to 73 points below Brad Keselowski, who is just above the cutline after Logano’s win.
(Up to 7 of 10 races; X-riveted berth in Championship 4)
1. Kevin Harvick, 4,115
2. Denny Hamlin, 4,094
3. Brad Keselowski, 4,082
4. Chase Elliott, 4,074
X-5. Joey Logano, 4,064
6. Alex Bowman, 4,055
7. Martin Truex Jr., 4,051
8. Kurt Busch, 4,009
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