Kurt Busch may be heading for Stewart-Haas Racing next season, but there’s still the job of putting Furniture Row Racing into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Two regular season races remain before the Chase begins, and Busch feels they’re the most important two races in team history.
“We won’t have any type of cushion whatsoever,” he said on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “We have to race these next two against right now I see the Penske cars [Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano] as the two we are racing heads up.
“After Sunday night, after the Atlanta race, we will see exactly what numbers are going to be in front of us and how that will play out, but we can’t go there to run 10th. We have to go there and run top five in these next two races.”
Busch’s attempt to earn a Chase berth took a hit last weekend at Bristol. A damaged right rear wheel hub relegated him to a 31st-place finish after he had led early in the race.
That’s pretty much brought the margin for error to zero for “The Outlaw,” who is six points out of the Top 10 in 12th position with no wins.
“The Chase for us started a few weeks back,” he said. “We’ve had to be perfect and run sixth and run third and run these top fives up against the stats every week.
“When we had a week like we had last week with the right-rear hub falling off while we are leading the race, those are things that are tough to overcome.”
Busch has been competitive lately at Atlanta, with two victories and four Top-10s in his last six starts on the 1.5-mile oval. He’ll start 32nd for tomorrow night’s Advocare 500.
COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Defending champion Sebastien Ogier goes into this weekend’s Rally Australia with a chance to clinch his sixth World Rally Championship in a row. Thierry Neuville, a runner-up four times but never a champion, hopes to change the world order.
Neuville led the series for much of the season but Ogier’s win in Britain and a second place in Spain has given the Frenchman 204 points, three ahead of Neuville, heading into the final rally of the championship.
“We are not the best friends but we are rivals and respect each other for our performances,” Neuville said Wednesday. “I’ve been second many times in the championship now, we are so close to the main goal.”
“If we need to take more risks because we need to pass Sebastien we’re going to try,” the Belgian driver added, “we’ll take the maximum risks.”
Ogier says the feeling is mutual when it comes to his main rival.
“We are different, definitely, but most important we’re in a great fight together and respect each other for that,” Ogier said. “It’s about trying to beat each other and do it with respect.”
Ott Tanak of Estonia sits 23 points behind and with 30 points for a win in Australia, and other results going his way, he could also capture the world title.
Ogier will be hoping for some Friday morning rain to settle the dust and gravel before he sets off first on what will be more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) of timed racing through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast, about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.
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