ANDY CAGLE: Too Early to Throw in the Towel in Chase for the Cup
Kyle Busch spent the first 26 races of the 2008 kicking the Cup field's collective butt.
He cruised into the Chase with 80 bonus points for his eight "regular season" wins and was the odds-on favorite to win the Cup.
I wrote that Kyle was having one of the greatest seasons in NASCAR history and could easily break the modern era record for wins.
Everyone was in his wake and he had a great psychological advantage over the field.
It was Kyle Busch's Chase and everyone else might as well have been sitting in the stands drinking cold beer.
Fast forward two weeks.
"We're out of the title hunt, that's for sure."
Those were Kyle Busch's words as he stood in the garage area at Dover last Sunday after a broken valve spring relegated him to a 43rd place finish. Couple that with a 34th place finish at New Hampshire and the younger Busch is buried in a 210-point hole with eight races to go.
Busch was so downtrodden with the situation he didn't even take his repaired Toyota back out onto the track.
"There's no point (in going back on the track) really, because you could get back out there and you're only going to make laps and be in everybody's way and possibly still finish 43rd," Busch said. "It's pretty disappointing."
The whole situation was eerily similar to the situation at Texas in the spring of 2007 when Busch left the track as his team frantically worked to fix his car.
That was the race that Dale Earnhardt Jr. got into his car and we see how that worked out for all those involved.
Now, I am not saying that Busch has a chance to win the championship this year. Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are too good and consistent to blow a lead of 200-plus points. But as a driver, you don't say you're done. I bet his crew guys loved that.
These are the guys who take your verbal abuse but work their butts off to get you out in front of everyone else.
If your team busts their collective humps to get your car fixed, you get your butt back in the seat and turn as many laps as you can. Those are the rules. You never know what's going to happen.
There may be a big crash that takes out half of the field and you can make up a couple of spots.
How does Kyle Busch not know this? And why is Joe Gibbs not raking him over the coals for this? Maybe he is and we just don't know about it.
How about his sponsors? I'm sure M&Ms are ecstatic that their driver has essentially given up on 2008. I wonder if they will ask for a refund. Kyle Busch is giving up on the season with roughly 15 percent of the season left to go. They should get 15 percent off their bill.
Busch is one of the most talented drivers I have ever seen. There is no debating his ability. He can flat-out drive a race car.
But unless there is some serious maturation on his part over the next decade, he is not winning a championship.
Contact Andy Cagle at email@example.com.
More like this story