With a sixth-place result on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch controls his own destiny entering the final race of the regular season – all he has to do is win.
But Busch has a backup plan, too. If he or another one-win driver doesn't win the race and Busch maintains his wild card points lead over Jeff Gordon, Busch will still get into the Chase.
"Richmond is a place where we would like to win because that would set us up really well for making this Chase," Busch said. "But we've also got to have a game plan if we're not capable of winning. ... I'm not going to say that we're comfortable or that we're going to be in yet, because anything could happen. Jeff's no slouch at Richmond, either."
A victory at Richmond is a realistic outcome for Busch, as he won the spring race in April. In 15 starts at the historic half-mile, Busch has four wins and an average finish of 4.76.
But for part of Sunday night's race, it looked as though Busch wouldn't have to worry much about Richmond. He led 66 laps in the first half of the Atlanta race before ultimately finishing sixth.
The Joe Gibbs Racing left pit road in ninth prior to the final restart and was generally satisfied with his day – and also pleased teammate Denny Hamlin prevented Gordon from picking up a crucial win.
"Overall, our night was good," Busch said. "We ran up front and had a good long run car. But we didn't get what we needed to on that last pit stop and came out ninth. We passed a few of the cars we needed to and our teammate did us justice by keeping (Gordon) out of Victory Lane."
Other drivers still mathematically eligible for a wild card spot include Paul Menard, Carl Edwards, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano. Kasey Kahne currently holds the other wild card spot with two wins, but has not yet clinched.