Busch, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet, doesn’t have to win the penultimate race before the Chase playoffs begin, but he can’t afford the type of stumble that happened to him last week at Bristol Motor Speedway.
After leading 54 consecutive laps early in the race at the half-mile Bristol oval, his day took a dramatic turn due to a hub failure in the right rear wheel assembly. Busch finished 31st and dropped three positions to 12th in the driver standings. He is currently six points out of 10, the final Chase spot before the two-wildcard entries.
“We’re still in the hunt and have to go out there and nail these next two races (at Atlanta and Richmond) with solid results,” said Busch, winner of the first Chase playoffs in 2004. “I am confident we’ll have a fast car at Atlanta, and we need to take care of it, avoid mistakes and be patient. We bounced back from finishing in the 30s before and that’s exactly what we have to do starting with the Atlanta race.”
The good news for Busch — he has a comfort level with the Atlanta track and more importantly has enjoyed success at the 1.54-mile oval with three wins, four top-fives, nine top-10s and 685 laps led.
“Atlanta ranks in the top-three for me in regards to speed, enjoyment, success and knowing my way around the track,” noted Busch. “We did a tire test in Atlanta and feel that our No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet hotrod will be ready to contend there this weekend.”
Busch, who has secured six top-fives and 11 top-10s this season with the single car Furniture Row Racing team, is also aware of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s pitfalls.
“Regarding the Atlanta track, you have to find balance between this new style of setup with the rear dropped low to the ground,” explained Busch. “But it will be tough because of how bumpy the track is, how much the asphalt chews up the tires and that you’re going to need your downforce later in the run. So, it will be an interesting balance of speed versus getting your car dialed in for a 50-lap run.”