CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Busch, to be clear, was only venting when he said he’d be knocked out of the playoffs this round. The reigning Cup champion insisted he was frustrated and flippant when he wrote off his season.
But here he is on the verge of elimination headed into Sunday’s race on the hybrid road course-oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is 21 points below the cutoff line and could become the first reigning champion eliminated in the round of 12 when four are trimmed from the field.
At stake is his bid to become the first driver to win consecutive titles since Jimmie Johnson won five straight from 2006-10. Busch also would lose his five-year streak of advancing to the championship race, but even worse, his run of at least one win every year since his 2005 rookie season is in serious danger.
Busch doesn’t need to win on the “Roval” to advance, but there’s only five races remaining for him to improve his season. Just one win will tie him for third on the all-time list at 16 consecutive seasons, with Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace and Johnson.
“It’s really important. Think about it, it’s a 16-year investment,” Busch said. “It would be nice if I’m able to keep winning races all the way through my career, each and every single year that I’m out there.”
XFINITY: AJ Allmendinger splashed his way through a torrential rainstorm that turned Charlotte Motor Speedway into a slip-and-slide on the hybrid roval course.
Allmendinger has had a long career in multiple series, including sports cars and open-wheel, which both race in the rain.
“I don’t know what we just witnessed,” Allmendinger said. “I was complaining the whole race. That was miserable. Crazy. Those conditions, to me, it’s not a lot of fun.
“I thought at times it was dangerous, the hydroplaning. At times, I thought we should have stopped it.”
FORMULA ONE: Valtteri Bottas ended teammate Lewis Hamilton’s run of five consecutive pole positions by claiming first on the grid for the Eifel Grand Prix in Nurburg, Germany.
Hamilton briefly sat atop the time charts after toppling Max Verstappen in the third session, but Bottas sped through seconds later with an unbeatable time, fastest in all three sectors of the Nurburgring track.
Hamilton will have to overtake his teammate on Sunday if he’s to match Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins in F1.
DRIVER DIES: Portugal’s Rally Vidreiro reported the death of Spanish co-driver Laura Salvo after her car crashed during the race on Saturday.
The rally said in a statement that Salvo was attended to by medics but died on site before the arrival of a medical helicopter. The 21-year-old Salvo was co-driving for Miguel Socias’ Peugeot.
The race was canceled after the incident.