With three wins on the season, Kyle Busch sits third in the championship standings and is nearly a sure-fire lock to make this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Yet with five races remaining before the start of the Chase, it is consistency – not the number of wins – that has Busch confident about his championship hopes.
"We feel like we've been better prepared this year," Busch said. "Certainly we don't have the tally of eight wins (like in 2008), but we're a lot more consistent I feel like; from pit stop to pit stop we're a lot more consistent; from race to race we're a lot more consistent.
Saying he feels like the team is a lot better than it has ever been, Busch's confidence in the work being done at the shop, in the garage and on pit road has ultimately made the biggest difference in 2011.
"It's good when you can have that consistency between pit stop to pit stop, race to race," he said. "It makes yourself a lot more confident within the team instead of blowing up about it and getting all up in arms about it.
"For me, it makes my job a lot easier than worrying about coming down pit road and whether we're going to make the right change move ourselves forward. I feel confident when I come down pit road that Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys will make a good change for me and we can move ourselves forward."
Not only has that consistency led to more confidence week to week, it has also allowed the team to rebound from struggles during a race – such as last weekend at Pocono.
"Where before we'd have a bad race and not be able to rebound from it, where we had a bad race and we rebound in that race at Indy to come back and have a 10th-place finish," he said. "Last weekend had a shot to win at Pocono, one of my probably least-favorite race tracks, and get a strong run there."
The one underlying issue that has plagued the Joe Gibbs Racing this season has been the unreliability of its engine program. Teammate Denny Hamlin pointed those issues last weekend at Pocono when discussing his chances of making the Chase and each of the team's three cars have consistently had to overcome setbacks throughout the year.
Yet on Thursday, JGR announced it would receive engines from Toyota Racing Development beginning in 2012. While everything will stay as it is for the remainder of the 2011 season, Busch sees an opportunity for improvement moving forward.
"I think this will really help us as a whole," Busch said of the merger. "I think it's going to be beneficial for all of us."