Kyle Busch hopes making this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase will be the first step in turning around a tough 2012 season.
With only two races remaining before the championship playoff series commences, Busch currently holds the final wildc ard spot available thanks to a win and his 13th position in the points, but his place in the title battle is by no means safe yet.
Despite focusing more on his Cup season than in years before, where he has run – and won – plenty of Nationwide and Truck races in parallel, Busch has had a lackluster year. His Richmond Cup win in April is his sole NASCAR victory of 2012 so far. In 2010 he won 24 races across the three series.
Mechanical issues and bad luck, notably engine-related issues, have struck Busch on several occasions.
"You don't work as hard as you do all year long to suffer along through a season and miss the Chase," said Busch. "[If] we miss the Chase we're just going to be another race car out there on the race track running around in circles for the rest of the year. That's how I feel about it. We certainly didn't want to be in that position.
"We want to make the Chase and we want to go out there and have the opportunity to race for a championship and be making circles for a reason. It's just been a frustrating season, a tough one that's tried to bring us down and there really hasn't been too much to be excited about this year. Hopefully, we can make the Chase and try to turn our focus a little bit toward putting smiles on."
Although Busch has been part of the Chasef five times in his career, he has not been able to mount a serious championship challenge yet. Only one of his 24 career Cup wins came in a Chase race.
However, the former Nationwide champion believes despite his regular season numbers, there is no reason to believe he will not be able to fight for the title if he manages to lock himself in contention after Richmond. His teammate Denny Hamlin, a three-time winner this season, is set to secure his place in the Chase this weekend.
"I don't see any reason as to why we wouldn't be able to go out there and contend for the championship if we were given the opportunity to make the Chase," Busch said. "We've just got to solidify our chances here this weekend and next weekend in Richmond and do everything right the way we know how to do it and be a Chase contender when the checkered flag flies at Richmond next weekend and then from there go on into the final 10 weeks and bust our butts to put together 10 great weeks. There's no reason why we can't.
"I don't see our competition nor the way that we're running as why we're in the 13th position. It's just due to dumb circumstances."