Former Cup Series Champion Makes Playoff Push at Sonoma

Kurt Busch Bristol

Getty Kurt Busch prepares for a dirt race at Bristol.

The NASCAR Cup Series drivers faced off at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 6, fighting for playoff points and stage wins. Kurt Busch entered the weekend fresh off a disappointing 38th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 and in need of some momentum. He partially achieved this goal and registered a top-10 finish.

The driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro finished sixth in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 road course race, racking up 41 points in the process. He didn’t take the checkered flag, but he kept himself within reach of a playoff spot. Busch is currently 18th in the standings with 328 points, but he is 63 points away from the cutoff line.

“We had a smooth day,” Busch said after the race, per NASCAR. “We figured out how to have a nice, easy execution. I worked with Ross, our teammate, to get two top 10s. It was almost a top-five type car, just needed better drive off the corners. To be in the mix and have the right strategy and have a smooth day, we’ll take it, and we’re going to build on it.”

The Race at Sonoma Was Busch’s Third Top-10 of the Season

Kurt Busch

GettyKurt Busch celebrates a win at Tennessee.

The former Cup Series champion has struggled during the 2021 season for a variety of reasons. He has seven finishes outside of the top 20 and four outside of the top 30 only one season after making the playoffs on points.

However, Sunday’s race served as a step in the right direction for Busch. It was the third top-10 of the year including strong performances on the Daytona Road Course (fourth) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (eighth). He will now have a week off for the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway before heading to Nashville Superspeedway for the first time in a Cup Series car.

In order to make the playoffs, Busch will have to keep making positive strides. He will have to accrue points while outperforming his fellow bubble drivers, such as Matt DiBenedetto. Though a win would automatically lock him into a spot in the chase for the Bill France Cup.

Busch’s Teammate Also Performed Well During the Trip to Sonoma

Ross Chastain

GettyRoss Chastain races at Sonoma.

When Kyle Larson took the checkered flag at Sonoma Raceway and brought the race to an end, there were two Chip Ganassi Racing cars near the front of the pack. Busch finished sixth while his teammate, Ross Chastain, finished seventh. Both drivers had finished last at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but they rebounded with strong performances on the California road course.

“A good day for both the No. 1 and 42 teams,” Chastain said, per NASCAR. “I got to race with the No. 1 car a lot there at the end and only touch a little bit, which is hard to do here. A good teammate and good building day for CGR.”

This road course performance marked the third top-10 of Chastain’s rookie season, as well as the second in the past three weeks. He also finished fourth during the first-ever NASCAR trip to Circuit of the Americas. Now he will try to keep his momentum heading to the remaining road courses on the schedule.

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