Kyle Busch can clinch the regular season championship Sunday night at Darlington Raceway.
Busch leads Kevin Harvick by 43 points going into the Bojangles’ Southern 500, the penultimate race in the regular season. Aside from taking home an extra trophy, winning the crown also comes with a nice perk beneficial for the playoffs: 15 bonus points.
If Busch were to win for the seventh time this season at Darlington, he would also clinch the regular season title if his point lead on Harvick is 60 points. If Busch does not win the race, his point lead needs to be 61 points to clinch.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Darlington in 2008. Last year he finished second in the event.
Asked how much focus the No. 18 team is putting on closing out the regular season with his point lead intact, Busch said more emphasis had been there in recent weeks.
“We’re trying to make sure that we can close the regular season with that championship and get those bonus points,” Busch said. “That’s what’s most meaningful, is those bonus points to carry you on through each round of the playoffs. You get those for every segment, so that’s going to be important. As far as what we can do to make sure that we still achieve that is just run strong. Points are going to take care of themselves if you’re running up front and doing all the right things.”
Harvick has seven wins to Busch’s six and leads the series with 40 playoff points. If Harvick is not able to overtake Busch for the point lead and regular season championship, he would be awarded 10 playoff points.
Busch has 35 playoff points.
“Harvick and I have been running so close to each other near or at the front each and every week,” said Busch. “He’s the closest competitor even though they’re still kind of a ways back. But, if you have a bad week here in the next couple of weeks and erase that deficit, it’s going to be a close battle all the way to the finish of the regular season.”
A driver can earn a maximum of 60 points in a race through winning both stages (worth 10 points each) and then the race (worth 40 points).