Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch's chances of making the Chase
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Chris Symeon - Motorsports Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch won Sunday's road course race in Sonoma, California, but he still has a long way to go to become eligible for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Busch, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota, missed the first 11 Sprint Cup Series races this season after he suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and left foot during an accident in the closing laps of the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway Feb. 21. His car slammed hard into a concrete wall that was not protected by the steel and foam energy reduction (SAFER) barrier. Busch underwent two surgeries to repair the fractures in his leg and foot.

Matt Crafton, David Ragan and Erik Jones shared driving duties in the No. 18 car before Busch returned to competition in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (non-points event) at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the third weekend in May. Competing in five points-paying races this season, Busch has finished 11th (Charlotte), 36th (Dover), ninth (Pocono) and 43rd (Michigan) before his win at Sonoma. He was involved in a wreck at Dover and Michigan.

Busch has accumulated 125 points this season, which currently ranks him 37th in the Sprint Cup point standings. He is 136 points behind 30th-place Cole Whitt.

When Busch returned to racing six weeks ago, NASCAR gave him a medical waiver to remain Chase-eligible. But he must finish in the top 30 in points when the regular season concludes following the Sept. 12 race at Richmond.

There are 10 regular season races left, and Busch needs an average finish of 14 in those events to make it into the top 30 and therefore become Chase- eligible.

Can he do it?

"It's certainly feasible," Busch said. "There's no reason why it shouldn't be. This team is good enough to be that way, and I should be good enough to be that way. I certainly put us in a hole bigger than it should have been at Dover and at Michigan. Those were entirely my fault, and I've got to be better than that. We can't have any more of those. We've just got to be smart about how we race."

Sprint Cup returns to Daytona later this week. Busch won the July 400-mile race there in 2008. In his last Sprint Cup race at Daytona, on July 6, 2014, he finished 28th after being involved in a 26-car accident. He had qualified fourth for this year's Daytona 500, which took place one day after he was injured.

"It's going to be different than I've ever probably gone into that racetrack, no doubt," he said of this weekend's race at Daytona. "I don't know what that's going to be yet, but I'm looking forward to it."

After Sunday night's race Daytona, the series heads to Kentucky (July 11), New Hampshire (July 19), Indianapolis (July 26), Pocono (Aug. 2), Watkins Glen (Aug. 9), Michigan (Aug. 16), Bristol (Aug. 22), Darlington (Sept. 6) and then Richmond.

Busch is feeling a lot more confident of him making the Chase now that he has won a race. It's just a matter of getting a lot of top-10 finishes and avoiding wrecks.

"I figured the win was going to be the hardest thing to get, but now that is here and it's out of the way, so we can now work towards being able to get ourselves in the top 30." Busch said. "When we're running third, fourth or fifth, we don't have to take that chance of going for a win and having an opportunity of crashing or something like that. We can just sit still there and be able to finish third, fourth or fifth. If you get those kinds of finishes, then the points are going to add up and you're going to be fine making the Chase."

But Busch knows that he's got a tough road ahead of him to make it into the top 30.

"I know it's going to take nine, 10 weeks," he said. "It's not going to happen in one week. That's not how this business ever works. You've certainly got to play it out all the way through. That's one of the things that maybe I haven't been so good at over the years, but you know, you've got to have that focus for not just one week but for a long time, and 10 weeks is a long time, so we've just got to do our job, both (crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and me. We can't screw up."

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