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Alliance with Childress bolsters Kurt Busch’s title hopes

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TOM PENNINGTON - GETTY
Kurt Busch has finished among the top 10 in half of the 26 Cup races this season and has been worse than 14th once since July 14.

Will the “Outlaw” be an outcast in the Chase?

It is true Kurt Busch’s Furniture Row Racing team is the first single-car organization to make the Chase.

While on the surface it might seem Busch – who gave himself the nickname “The Outlaw” in part for his run-ins with NASCAR and media – might be flying solo these final 10 races, that’s not necessarily true.

One reason for the success of his No.78 Chevrolet team this year has been the technological alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which fields three full-time Cup teams and builds its own engines.

That alliance should prove even more beneficial during the weeks ahead as the organizations work together for the benefit of their respective entries in the Chase. Kevin Harvick and his No.29 Chevrolet team qualified for the Chase out of RCR.

“I think it will still be business as usual. We have a great group of crew chiefs on the other side there at RCR,” said Busch, who won the 2004series championship. “Gil Martin, the way he’s helped us and Harvick, those guys stand out in my mind.

“Then we look at the No.27 car (and driver Paul Menard), the help they’ve given us this year. I would say that should continue. Then you have Luke Lambert in the No.31 car (and driver Jeff Burton). They’ve always been helpful.

“We’ll expect to be there to do our part, to help the No.29. Right now it’s the No.29 and the No.78 coming out of that situation.”

Though Busch has yet to win a race this season, he enters the Chase with some of the strongest momentum among the 12 drivers. He is coming off his best finish of the season – runner-up at Richmond, Va. – and has earned three top-five finishes among the past four races and five top-10s in his past six starts.

“I can understand how some folks felt it was an improbable accomplishment for a little single-car team from Colorado to make the Chase, but in reality the Chase was our goal from the beginning of the year,” Busch said.

“Believe me, this Furniture Row team continues to move the needle forward and grab traction. We have some muscle to flex in the next 10 weeks.”

“I keep saying we need to keep plugging away, protect our car and avoid major mistakes,” said Busch, who has made the Chase with threeorganizations. “These Furniture Row guys keep on giving me fast cars and I expect the same during the Chase.

“It’s a matter of putting it all together in the 10 crucial Chase races.”

FRR general manager Joe Garone said the technical alliance with RCR would not work as well as it does if not for the full support of owner Richard Childress.

“The partnership that we have with RCR, when we first started, Richard was very supportive, really to the point of saying, ‘I’m not going to do this unless we do it all in and really support you guys,’” Garone said.

“Whenever we’ve needed it, on projects when we’re working back and forth, they’ve always been right there with us. We look forward to growing that as we move forward here in the Chase.”

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