Kyle Busch has been in firm control of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings since late March when he finished second at Martinsville Speedway. But even as Busch has added to his win total and playoff point tally the last few weeks, he says he and the No. 18 team are not focused on winning the regular-season championship.
“I would just say that we know it’s out there and we know that when we run well and we do well, and we finish races well, the points take care of themselves,” Busch said after winning for the fourth time at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“[Sunday] I think we scored max points and [that] set us up for an awesome opportunity to have a bit of a cushion maybe for a week because those guys behind us were kind of closing in.”
Sweeping all three stages and winning the Coca-Cola 600 did indeed give Busch max points, 70. The three stage wins also added to his playoff total, which is now at 25. Busch’s 25 points put him ahead of Kevin Harvick by one. The next-highest drivers are Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. at seven.
In the overall point standings, Busch leads Logano by 67 and Harvick by 88.
“This week feels good to have a bit of a cushion built back up,” said Busch. “We go to a few of our tracks that we like going to, and hopefully, can run well at; try to keep this foundation in which we’ve built already this year consistent through the next however many weeks to bring home the regular-season championship for those extra bonus points that you get from that.”
Having the points lead at the end of the regular season gained added importance last year when NASCAR introduced playoff points to the championship system. The driver who is atop the standings after race 26 — this year Indianapolis — is awarded an extra 15 playoff points.
Last year, Martin Truex Jr. was awarded the regular-season championship. Added to what was already an impressive playoff total, Truex guaranteed himself a helpful safety net in the playoffs should disaster strike.
Behind the regular-season champion, the second-place driver in the standings gets 10 points, and the third place receives eight points. The points awarded then continue to decline to one point for the 10th-place driver.