NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 12 Kurt Busch

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Kurt Busch

Season finish: 12th

2014 Season Stats: 1 wins, 6 top-5, 11 top-10, 0 Poles.

What went right: The 2004 Sprint Cup champ started off the season right when he wound up back with a major team when Gene Haas signed him. Busch won his first Sprint Cup win race since 2011 when he triumphed in the spring at Martinsville. He also drew global attention when he was the first driver to do “The Double,” finishing sixth in the Indianapolis 500, but wound up 40th and failed to finish the Coca-Cola 600 due to engine problems.

What went wrong: Busch started the Chase with an eighth place finish, but a 36th place finish at Loudon and 18th at Dover sealed his fate and he was among the first four drivers eliminated from advancement following the first round of the Chase. While he did have some strong finishes in the latter stages of the Chase at Talladega (7th), Texas (8th) and Phoenix (7th), the best he was able to finish in the final standings was 12th. Interestingly, Busch competed the last three races with a new crew chief, when veteran and old-school pit boss Tony Gibson replaced Daniel Knost, and had three of his better finishes of the season, finishing 8th, 7th and 11th.

2015 Prospectus: With Gibson for a full season as his crew chief, Busch should see improvement on the racetrack. Plus, Gibson is bringing a number of his long-time crew members with him. For whatever reason, Busch seems to work better with older veteran crew chiefs than younger ones. Example: he won the first Chase championship in 2004 with old-school crew chief Jimmy Fennig. If things go better, Busch could wind up having a big comeback season in 2015.

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