KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Kurt Busch is hardly the fans' choice to win NASCAR's Nextel Cup championship. He's sometimes booed in Victory Lane.
But thanks to top-five finishes in the first three events of the 10-race title showdown and a slip of the tongue by Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday at Talladega, Busch is the leader entering Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway.
"It's unfortunate," Busch said, referring to Earnhardt's use of an expletive during a live postrace victory interview that cost Earnhardt 25 points.
Busch, who went from trailing Earnhardt by 13 to leading by 12, wants to win on the track, not with the NASCAR penalty. He'll get seven more chances this season in the new playoff.
"It's just a matter of putting 10 races together, and we're poised to do that with the tests that we've saved up and the luck that we've had recently," he said. "And just being able to be competitive is the biggest key - to be able to run eighth place at all of these races.
"If you've got a chance to win, do it. If you slide out of the top 10 (in a race), you've got to finish as close to that top 10 as you can."
As for trailing Busch at this point, Earnhardt insists there's a lot of racing left. "It's still anybody's race," he said.
Track company posts third-quarter earnings
International Speedway Corp., the largest operator of U.S. auto racing tracks, said fiscal third-quarter net income rose 89 percent because of a gain from the sale of a track in North Carolina.
Net income rose to $68.1-million, or $1.28 a share, from $36-million, or 68 cents, a year before. Revenue in the quarter ending Aug. 31 fell 2.5 percent to $156.5-million from $160.5-million, the company said in a statement.
The company bought a track in Martinsville, Va., and sold the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. The company is considering building facilities as racing grows in popularity outside its southeastern roots.
International Speedway, based in Daytona Beach where it runs Daytona International Speedway, is considering building tracks near Seattle and on Staten Island.