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Helping Hands Will Be Hard To Find At PIR Sunday

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 15 2015
Kyle Busch knows that it's every man, and every Busch, for themself at Phoenix. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Kyle Busch knows that it’s every man, and every Busch, for himself at Phoenix. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Six of the seven drivers competing for the final three spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship’s four-driver grand finale at Homestead, Fla. next weekend will have teammates on the track this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

buganalysisSo, absolutely predictably on Friday, many were asked the oddly pro forma question of what they could/would do to help their teammates advance to the championship race.

The precise verbiage of the answers differed but the message was identical – are you freakin’ kidding?

Help will be meted out, the consensus was, to nobody.

Carl Edwards will be one of two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers vying for one of the three berths – the fourth has already been secured by Jeff Gordon as a result of his victory at Martinsville two weeks ago. The other Gibbs driver is Kyle Busch, who, like Edwards, is pursuing his first Cup championship.

Edwards, in his first year with the Toyota team, was asked about helping Busch.

“Once the race starts, it’s every man for himself,” he said.

That’s always the case but this weekend, it’s more so.

Kurt Busch will be competing for advancement with Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, last year’s championship. Help, Busch said, ends, basically, immediately – if it ever fully started to begin with.

“For Kevin, he has his agenda and for us, we have our agenda,” Busch said.

Harvick, never big on answering questions that answers to which are obvious, was  Harvick.

“I haven’t really thought about any of that stuff to be honest with you,” he said. “The only thing I’ve thought about this week was winning this race.”

If none of remaining contenders for the berth win at PIR, then points will determine the final three plus Gordon.

After Gordon, the points shake out like this:  Kyle Busch is two points back, Harvick three points back, Martin Truex Jr. (the lone driver without a teammate) is six points back, Edwards is 12 points back, Brad Keselowski of Team Penske is 25 back, Kurt Busch is 34 back and Penske’s Logano is 69 back.

Teammates said Friday that they hope their other teammate will make the finale – as long as they make it in themselves.

“I hope Kyle (Busch) and I both make it – that would be really fun to race him at Homestead,” Edwards said. “Like I said, once we get to the race on Sunday, it’s every man for himself.”

Many teams will tell you that they have an open-data book policy at their shops. They’ll tell you that they don’t condone keeping secrets from teammates.

But common sense alone dictates that in a predatory sport like auto racing, there must be some small shreds of non-community property stashed away somewhere.

After winning Saturday’s XFINITY race at Phoenix, Kyle Busch hinted that he learned some things in the “B” series race that will help him on Sunday.

Such as?

“Nothing really I can share, sadly,” Busch said.

Not with the media but surely with teammate Edwards, who may need a victory to advance to Homestead, eh?

Ha. Good one.

“You race as hard as you would with any other competitor, I feel like,” Busch said. “Right now it’s the situation where you want to try to eliminate as many guys as you can that you feel like you’ll be in contention with for the championship and Carl Edwards is really good at Homestead – he’s probably one of the best at Homestead.

“If I had to look at five drivers, he’s definitely in my top-five list of guys at Homestead that are good there. We just work as hard as we can and try to do what we need to do to push ourselves through and if Carl can push himself through, more power to him.”

If the concept of team is dumped at this time of year in racing, then how about the concept of family.

Two of the seven drivers going for the championship are brothers named Busch. Any chance they would scuttle the other in pursuit of the big ugly silver trophy? Every chance. They done it before. Perhaps most famously in the 2007 all-star race in Charlotte in May.

They wrecked each other going for the win. And that was for a measly million dollars. Afterward they feuded for six months. They had to be brought together by their grandmother at Thanksgiving.

On Sunday at Phoenix, helping hands will remain deeply planted into pockets. Racing is a team sport except that it’s not.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 15 2015
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