Closest finish in NASCAR history
Kurt Busch started the day in the most enviable position in the garage, he had the pole and he was the point’s leader for the series. No pressure, right?
The 26-year-old driver from Las Vegas would have to gamble if he wanted to stay on top. The other drivers had to chase him, unless he had problems, and in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, problems can happen any minute. Busch had a typical day for him, racing the final race of the season much like he has for the ten race series. The two-time winner this year overcame obstacles, staying calm and figuring what he needed to win the championship, bringing it home for car owner Jack Rousch for the second year in a row.
It’s unbelievable to be able to put such and effort into what it takes to make a championship caliber team,” Busch said. “Many things have to fall into place.”
No one in the garage area or trade experts picked Busch’s team to be at the thick of the championship at the beginning of the year. When Busch was interviewed at Bristol earlier this year he told the Herald, “I just try to win races for the team, the points will fall into place if we can stay consistent.”
The first hurdle was getting into the top ten in the “Chase for the Championship”, a new points system that NASCAR and Nextel formulated for the 2004 season. After Busch got into the top ten, he used calm, smart driving to rise to the top and eventualKurt Busch takes the first Nextel Cup Champion flag around Homestead Miami Speedway.ly win the first Nextel Cup.
During the race, Busch had a freak incident where his wheel broke, Busch was able to keep his car straight and come down pit road, stay on the lead lap and keep the hope alive for the championship. During one point in the race, Busch was mired in the back, as far as 24th, and not moving through the field very fast. Caution flags and Busch’s crew kept him in the hunt, eventually getting to fifth, where he finished.
The end of the race saw Busch win by a mere eight points over Jimmie Johnson and sixteen points over Gordon. The only change in the top ten came for Mark Martin, who moved to fourth in the standings, dropping Dale Earnhardt Jr. to fifth for the final tally.