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CUP: Two To Go, A Spot To Save

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Kyle Busch has been in and out of the Chase lineup enough lately to have a serious case of dizziness.

Entering Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch is back in, thanks to a sixth-place finish at Bristol, combined with Ryan Newman’s 36th-place run. Newman held the second wild card entering the race but fell two spots behind Busch.

Busch has had a wacky up-and-down season – he’s been as high as eighth in points and as low as 17th, but the mission in recent weeks has centered on qualifying for the Chase.

“I would certainly like to think we can make the Chase and we’d have the opportunity to do so, but that’s all we can do,” Busch said. “I can’t sit here and tell you how much we deserve to be in the Chase or anything else. Atlanta hasn’t been one of our best tracks recently, but this team is going to work hard this weekend to change that.

“If we can have a solid run with our Doublemint Camry, we can look toward Richmond, where we have a good record and hope we can get into the Chase. It’s either going to come or it’s not. It’s that simple.”

Although Busch won at Atlanta in 2008, his recent record at the 1.5-mile track doesn’t shine. In the past seven races at AMS, his best finish is 12th.

His record at Richmond, which will host the final race before the Chase, is quite the opposite, with four victories and 13 top-10 runs in 15 races.

“We’ve been really fast,” Busch said. “We’ve had fast race cars, which I’ve been excited about. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys have done a really nice job of putting together some good stuff.

“It’s just that stupid things keep happening. We made the most out of last weekend at Bristol even though we didn’t hit it there like we have in the past. All we can do is control what we can and hope things fall into place for us the next two races.”

Busch said his major problem at Atlanta has been running well throughout long green-flag stretches.

“I’ve either been really good or mediocre or really bad,” he said. “There have been times where I’ve been really good throughout the event. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to keep the grip in my car for the long haul, as long as you need throughout a run. I’m really fast for the first five, eight laps. But, after that, I seem to slip more than anyone else.”

Sprint Cup activities are scheduled to begin at AMS Friday with practice from 2:30 to 4 p.m. (ET). Qualifying is scheduled at 6 p.m.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.