Next five weeks could make or break Kurt Busch’s 2021 season

Kurt Busch

Sixteen drivers will make the cut to become eligible for a shot at the NASCAR Cup Series championship with that cut set to be made following the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway seven weeks from now. Drivers who have won a race up to that point in the season will make the cut along with those highest in points who haven’t won until all sixteen spots are filled.

If the NASCAR Playoffs cut were to be made today, Kurt Busch would be a championship contender … but just barely. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is currently ranked as the last competitor inside the bubble in terms of being among the sixteen entrants.  But his margin is a razor thin three points over Chris Buescher.

The reality is, however, that the playoff cut is not going to be made for another seven weeks. That said though, the NASCAR schedule has reached a point in the 2021 campaign in which the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion has an opportunity to shine.

The next five races will consist of three road courses as well as runs at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Each of these tracks provides the elder of the racing Busch brothers with an opportunity to lock himself into the playoffs with a win or to score enough points to earn one of those non winners “at-large” places.

The road course events at Road America, Watkins Glen International, and the road course portion of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway offer the 42-year-old driver with perhaps his best chances to either score significant numbers of points or even earn a win. Busch has shown signs of strength in the previous three races held on tracks that consist of both left and right hand turns during the first half of the 2021 season.

The No. 1 Chevrolet led laps and, despite an off track excursion, took the checkered flag in the fourth position back in February on the Daytona International Speedway road course. After earning stage points and running competitively for a good portion of the rain-soaked race at the Circuit of the Americas, Busch ultimately had a disappointing finish after sliding off the track late in the going. And again, the Las Vegas native scored stage points and ran well throughout the day before earning a solid sixth-place result at Sonoma Raceway in early June.

Busch has shown in 2021 that he can run well enough to contend for wins and points on the tour’s road courses and he has three chances coming up in the near future to take advantage of that fact. Furthermore, the races on these types of tracks often call for unconventional strategy and crew chief Matt McCall has never been shy about trying the unconventional.

Kurt Busch is looking to put the No. 1 CGR car in the NASCAR Playoffs(Photo: Getty Images)

But there are two upcoming races out of the next five that are not going to be held on road courses. Like the road courses, Busch has a past record of success at New Hampshire and Atlanta. He has won three times and has posted 15 top-10 finishes at each of those venues over the course of his career.

These next five NASCAR Cup Series races set up very well for Kurt Busch. Winning a race would assure him of a spot in the quickly approaching NASCAR Playoffs but scoring points could do that as well. In other words, his season could be made or broken over the month or so.

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