NASCAR Watkins Glen 2015: Kyle Busch backs off to finish 2nd, moves into Chase spot

SPARTA, KY - JULY 09:  Kyle Busch (18) and Samantha Busch stand for the National Anthem before the Quaker State 400 race at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY on July 09, 2011.
SPARTA, KY - JULY 09: Kyle Busch (18) and Samantha Busch stand for the National Anthem before the Quaker State 400 race at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY on July 09, 2011.

Kyle Busch is now high in the point standings that he would qualify for NASCAR’s Chase.

With an eye on the big picture and exercising a prudent approach that was absent a week ago, Kyle Busch finished second to race-winner Joey Logano Sunday at Watkins Glen International.

As the final 30 laps of the Cheez-It 355 went caution-free, it became apparent that fuel mileage would figure into the outcome. Accordingly, crew chiefs implored their drivers to save fuel in attempt to make it to finish without pitting. This is exactly how last week’s race was decided at Pocono Raceway, which saw Busch run out of fuel on the final lap while leading and finish 21st.

But on Sunday — on the advice of crew chief Adam Stevens — Busch backed off, electing not to pressure leaders Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, who were running first and second, respectively. That paid off when Harvick’s tank hit empty on the last lap, allowing Logano and Busch to pass the defending series champion in the final corner to finish 1-2.

“We couldn’t afford running out of gas like we did last week and taking home an even worse finish this week because of how many cars finish on the lead lap typically at a road course,” Busch said. “We’d be back in the 30s somewhere. I’m sure that was weighing on Adam’s mind on being able to save it and make it to the end and just playing it a little bit more cautious, which is fine.”

The conservative mindset moved Busch to 30th in the standings, therefore making him eligible for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He is six points ahead of 31st-ranked Cole Whitt with four regular season races remaining.

Though he recorded four victories in 2015, Busch missed 11 races with a broken right leg and left foot sustained in a February crash at Daytona International Speedway. That absence required him to apply for a waiver to make the Chase, which NASCAR granted provided Busch score a win and finish 30th or better in the standings.

“We knew we would be,” Busch said. “It was just a matter of time. That was probably another reason we didn’t need to run out of gas and have an issue here today.

“For us to be in the top 30 right now, that obviously allows us to change our mindset maybe a little bit here going forward. We maybe could have played this race a little bit differently if we were like (Harvick) who had absolutely nothing to lose. Lo and behold, they run out and come home third. We run out and come home 21st last week. Just an overall good day for us.”

 

This article was written by Jordan Bianchi from SB Nation SB Nation National Feed and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.