While Kyle Busch has been the Sprint Cup Series' hottest driver over the past six weeks, winning four times and leading last weekend at Pocono Raceway before running out of fuel on the final lap, Jimmie Johnson has delivered noticeably mediocre results.
Over the same six-race stretch that Busch has dominated, Johnson has recorded just one top-five finish and led just two races. Perhaps even more telling is that the most recent of Johnson's four wins this season came at Dover International Speedway more than two months ago.
Busch wants to assure everyone of something, though: The six-time Sprint Cup Series champion and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team can't be written off where this year's championship is concerned. Sure, they might not have shown a lot of muscle in recent races, but, according to Busch, we've seen this song and dance before.
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"We're all well aware of the 48 team strategy every single season, right?" Busch said on Friday at Watkins Glen International where Sprint Cup Series drivers completed two practices ahead of Saturday's qualifying session.
"They get in the Chase, they lock themselves in and then they go play for however long in order to try to learn some things."
Not that Busch is criticizing Johnson and his Chad Knaus-led bunch for employing a strategy that he believes is more focused on the Chase than the races leading up to it; Busch is merely calling it as he sees it.
"They're very smart in what they do," he said. "I'm (pretty) certain that the way they're running isn't fooling anyone right now."
As for his own team and its efforts to break into the top 30 in points and secure a spot in the Chase over the next five races, Busch feels confident heading into Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
Considering the tear Busch has been on -- and the fact he's the series' most recent road-course winner and a past winner at Watkins Glen -- his optimism is certainly justified.
"I just think that we're really on a roll right now," said the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who missed the first 11 points races of 2015 while recovering from injuries. "I think everything is just really clicking for the 18 M&M's team. We won one and we weren't necessarily satisfied with that so we went to Kentucky, a place that's really good for me, and we won again. We went to a place like Loudon (New Hampshire) where I finished second in three of the last four races there, and we won there this time.
"Then we backed it up at Indy where I finished second I think two of the last three years. I've had some really good runs at these places; we just haven't been able to close the deal, and finally closing the deal, it just all came together."