When Kyle Busch won last weekend at Watkins Glen it was more than just the 27th victory of his career, it also represented a security blanket of sorts.
Now with three wins on the year and ranked a comfortable fifth in the standings, Busch is all but ensured of being a participant in this year's Chase. Accordingly, the No. 18 team doesn't have to concern itself with points over the remaining four regular season races and can instead aggressively pursue wins over the next month.
"I think that we certainly have a little bit of leeway there that we can play," Busch said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. "I think the biggest thing you're going to play with is just some gambles on the race track and what you can do and see if you can't get some wins through some creative pit strategy or something."
While experimenting with setups can prove beneficial and pay dividends in the Chase, there is also a potential downside of deviating too far from a gameplan that has proved successful.
"You also don't want to get yourself too far off base of what you've done so far this year that allows you to run well and finish well," Busch said. "Biggest thing for us is that the wins mean the most right now and trying to get some bonus points.
"You've just got to essentially keep it real and not venture too far off base."
The position Busch finds himself entering Michigan this season is vastly different from the one he was in last year at this time when he was in a dogfight to make the Chase. It was battle he would ultimately lose to Jeff Gordon by a scant three points.
Noticeably more relaxed, Busch is looking for his fourth win of the year Sunday, which would move him into a tie with Jimmie Johnson and teammate Matt Kenseth for tops in the series.
"To be in a different situation this year is a lot easier to walk around and go through the weeks and to come to the weekend and get ready for the racing," Busch said. "You try not to dwell on the things that knock you back as much and you can focus a little bit more on the positives."