By Jason Schultz / @NASCARJason – Kyle Busch’s comeback this season has been incredible.
After his horrific crash during the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, nearly everyone counted him out of contention for the championship in 2015.
Now nine months following the most devastating day of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s career, he is in position to compete for the title in the season finale. This moment was unimaginable on that dreary day in Daytona Beach, Florida. However, as a result of the hard work Busch put into his recovery, he earned this opportunity.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” may be one of the most cliché sayings of all-time, but it undoubtedly applies to the 30-year old’s situation. Since breaking his right leg and foot, Busch has proven to be stronger than ever before.
The injury instilled a drive to succeed inside of him unlike any other he has ever experienced. Wanting to prove people wrong and show them that he can recover and compete for the championship acted as a major source of motivation.
Many argue that a driver who misses 11 races shouldn’t have the chance to compete for the title. However, “Rowdy” is just as deserving as his competitors.
When he made his triumphant return in May, NASCAR granted him an injury waiver. They didn’t waive any other requirements to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. This put him in a position where he would have to earn a spot in the playoffs in about half the number of races.
And he did.
The Las Vegas, Nevada native rose above his competition throughout the summer months in order to accomplish this feat.
The most difficult task facing drivers looking to qualify for the Chase is to capture a victory. Many expected this to be the Achilles heel in Busch’s quest to make the playoffs. However, it came much easier and faster than expected as he scored the victory at Sonoma Raceway during his fifth race back behind the wheel.
He further proved his worthiness to compete for the title by winning three of the next four races, including the prestigious Brickyard 400. The victories helped the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota team gain the necessary points to make the top-30. Midway through August, they locked up a position in the Chase and the opportunity to compete for the championship.
To say this team doesn’t deserve a shot at the title because their driver missed 11 events is like saying the New England Patriots don’t deserve to make the playoffs because Tom Brady missed 11 games.
The argument doesn’t work. The No. 18 team competed in each and every race when their driver was sidelined and worked just as hard as the other three teams to get to this position.
Busch was faced with unprecedented circumstances and overcame them in an impressive manner. Now as a result of his hard work, determination and success, he has the chance to capture the championship.
A title would conclude the ultimate comeback story. Going from a hospital bed during the Daytona 500 to running for a championship in Miami is an accomplishment the sport has never seen before, making his attempt at history even more remarkable.
If Busch is able to better his stout competition on Sunday in Miami and hoist the Sprint Cup, he will have earned it. He put in the effort throughout the season and will bask in the glory of Victory Lane if he is able to pull off one final amazing performance in 2015.
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan