Breaking News Bar

Ed Graney: Kyle Busch toughing his way to Chase

  • RJ FILE*** LOCAL - Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports columnist, Ed Graney, is photographed at the R-J studeo Monday morning, May 22, 2006. CLINT KARLSEN/REVIEW-JOURNAL (slug: coumnsig_graney)

    RJ FILE*** LOCAL - Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports columnist, Ed Graney, is photographed at the R-J studeo Monday morning, May 22, 2006. CLINT KARLSEN/REVIEW-JOURNAL (slug: coumnsig_graney)

By Ed Graney
The Las Vegas Review-Journal
Posted on 7/22/2015, 10:49 AM

The kid had a look on his face we have seen from his old man several times during a sometimes brilliant, sometimes inconsistent, never-without-extreme-talent career. Sort of brooding and agitated and cantankerous.

Brexton Busch is a commercial waiting to happen and obviously didn't know what all the fuss was about, which happens when you are 2 months old and within gurgling distance of a live lobster bigger than Daddy's race car.

I'm guessing the little guy was more concerned about how many Twitter followers he might have added during his photo op in Victory Lane.

He was at more than 5,000 late Sunday.

Kyle Busch smiled enough for the entire family, which made us wonder if any Comeback of the Year Award in sports for 2015 might be decided before NFL camps open. Busch has never lacked for ability. He could drive a drone into space.

Now, we're seeing a lot about the sort of toughness he owns.

Busch won his third Sprint Cup race in four starts over the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and it meant a whole lot more than the 21-pound lobster that came with claiming the checkered flag in Loudon.

When he hit an interior wall during the season's first Xfinity Series race at Daytona in February and his right leg and left foot snapped, the talk was more about NASCAR's failure to make certain the track had installed an energy-absorbing SAFER barrier than anything about Busch and a possible Chase championship.

But broken bones heal and it's obvious Busch has a thirst to prove many wrong, his pursuit of a place in the playoff becoming stronger each week after missing the season's first 11 races following his crash.

This is hardly your typical resurgence. A month ago, the chances Busch could find himself within the top 30 in points by the time the playoff field is set in September compared to that of brother Kurt having second thoughts about rekindling his romance with the trained assassin.

I suppose a guy can only have his girlfriend show up in a gown covered in blood so many times without it losing some appeal.

Kyle Busch hasn't lost in consecutive starts and is now just 58 points out of that 30th spot, this after he returned from his injury and finished 36th following a late-race crash at Dover and in last place at Michigan.

This after working with a new crew chief in Adam Stevens for 2015 and dealing with NASCAR's new low-downforce rules package.

But no one has ever questioned Busch's skill, and when the car is right and the communication with his crew is right and the conditions to make a late move are right, few on the planet are better.

"You don't know what situations are going to come about (each week)," Busch said following his win Sunday. "You just have to take those moments as they come to you. Really can't think about it. You just got to react and do the right thing, or hope that it turns out to be the right thing. I'm not sure we've unleashed the beast at all. We're just taking one race at a time and doing everything that we need to do to have the right opportunities come our way.

"I feel like there's a plan in this world for all of us. God certainly put one on my table this year that I don't know that I've had this big of a challenge before. That was in the injury and now, getting back in the car, getting back in the Chase. You know, in my mind, the opportunity I got put in front of me was to run 20 championship weeks from here on out till the end of the year. That's what it's going to be for us."

NASCAR granted the Joe Gibbs Racing driver a waiver upon his return, stating that should Busch win one of the remaining 15 regular-season points races and finish in the top 30 in points, he would be one of the 16 in this year'??s Chase field.

The winning part more than took care of itself.

The part about points should also be clinched soon.

Busch has never won a Chase title, earning him the same sort of distinction as the best golfer without a major or best tennis player without a Grand Slam. In fact, the playoff rolls around each year and he more often than not doesn'??t compete, having finished 10th or worse eight times in 11 tries.

But maybe this is the year. His mindset changed when his car crashed into that interior wall and his world changed when he and wife Samantha welcomed their first child, Twitter veteran Brexton.

We have seen the brooding and agitated and cantankerous Kyle Busch over the years.

Now, we're seeing a tough, determined one.

"I think probably the reason why we admire great athletes, a lot of us dreamed about being a great athlete, and we weren't good enough," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "Then you see the people that are good enough. But then there's only a few that are really, really special in a sport. Kyle is one of those in racing because he has an unusual ability, but also has a real fire and a passion for what he does. So that kind of comes through."

Maybe it all comes together this time.

What a comeback it would be.

It would taste far better than any lobster.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.