HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- This hasn't exactly been the storybook Chase many people expected for NASCAR's Cat in the Hat.
|Kurt Busch will not race at Homestead as he serves his suspension from Roush Racing. (Getty Images)|
Half the field? That's pretty good odds.
Two months and nine races later, Roush's five is down to four. On top of that, the owner of the past two Nextel Cup champions is a longshot to make it a three-peat.
Roush drivers Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle remain mathematically eligible for the series championship heading into Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Eligible, but they'll need help just short of divine intervention to catch points leader Tony Stewart.
Matt Kenseth, the 2003 champ, and Mark Martin will remember 2005 as being a good, not great, season. Both will return to drive for Roush next season. Martin had planned to retire from the top series, but will help out longtime friend and partner Roush.
Then there's Kurt Busch.
Busch began the Chase where he won last year's Nextel Cup championship -- in the seat of the No. 97 car.
Two things changed Busch's view Sunday of Homestead-Miami from the driver's seat to the couch.
First, Busch recently agreed to drive for Roger Penske in 2007. Then, before last week's race in Phoenix, Busch had a run-in with the law. The worst of the two offenses, from Roush's eyes, probably was Busch's signing with Penske. (Busch recently was released to join Penske in 2006, when Jamie McMurray will join Roush to drive the No. 97.)
Whatever the true reason or reasons for Busch's suspension by Roush for the final two races this season, the controversy added to a disappointing Chase for the man known as the Cat in the Hat.
"I think it will be a travesty if Tony doesn't win a championship," Roush said. "He certainly had the kind of luck going for him that we had in 2003 and 2004, and he's had a better performance than I've had in those same years.
"If he can't win it this year, then it's real clear I shouldn’t have won the other two -- and I'd hate to give back more than one of them."