After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are now going to start taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.
We’ll continue on with the fourth-place driver in the championship, Kyle Busch…
No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2013 Stats: Fourth Place, Four Wins, 16 Top-5s, 22 Top-10s, 1,227 Laps Led
Average Start: 9.1
Average Finish: 12.7
Estrada Says: This past season saw Busch claim four Sprint Cup wins, but the most important thing he can take away from 2013 is that he didn’t fade in the Chase. A pair of runner-up finishes to begin the post-season at Chicagoland and Loudon had him in good position, but another dismal day at Kansas pretty much wiped out his title hopes. However, he claimed four Top-10s and had no finishes worse than 15th in the final six events. Now that he’s put his bad post-season reputation to rest, Busch would appear set to contend next year. With that said, he’ll have to cut down on his bad days – he had seven finishes of 30th or worse.
DiZinno Says: It seemed a more mature Busch in 2013, and a more successful one at that. As Chris outlined above, he had a Chase that didn’t completely go up in smoke for the first time, even if it wasn’t entirely a title-contender. Besides the four wins, his 22 top-10 finishes marked a career high in nine full-time Cup seasons, so the consistency was there. Undoubtedly Matt Kenseth’s switch to JGR made an impact, because Busch nor Denny Hamlin had the pressure of being the veteran leader while still developing themselves. Busch spoke highly of Kenseth’s presence throughout the year and the chemistry is there for an improved 2014. Still, the lingering question remains as to whether Busch can get through a single Chase unscathed.
In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.
Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.
Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.
The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.
“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”
Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.
SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.
When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.
SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.
Read more about SuperMotocross