AP Sports Writer
SPARTA, Ky. (AP) - After struggling in his last four starts, Kyle Busch is hoping he has found the perfect tonic in Bourbon country.
Busch is the defending champion at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Getting back to a track where he's had some success _ he won the Truck race and finished third in the Nationwide event a year ago as well _ comes at just the right time.
"It was a great race for us last year," he said Friday just before taking the track for a weather-plagued qualifying session. "I feel good about it again this year. I feel like we're right where we left off."
The thing is, Busch and his Toyota have not been running very well.
The 27-year-old from Las Vegas has had a season of highs and lows. He won at Richmond and then finished second at Talladega, fourth at Darlington and third at Charlotte in consecutive starts.
Since then, he's had three blown engines and has finished 29th, 30th, 32nd and 17th. Last week at the race in Sonoma, Denny Hamlin's car spun out and tangled with Busch's, damaging the front end of the car. That caused him to limp around the road course the rest of the race.
What's particularly frustrating is that the engine problems seem to be something different each time.
"The engine failures that we've had, it's a little disheartening," he said. "It sets us back a little bit, but we can only do what we can do to work harder. Having three different issues, whether that's better or worse _ I don't think any engine issue is good. But those guys (on the crew) are working hard and trying to run through everything and figure out what's been going on."
Busch finds himself 12th in the Cup standings and a distant 137 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth. He's well aware he can't continue to have problems if he hopes to make the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
"I'm just hoping that we work as hard as we can and run as hard as we can and we get good finishes," he said. "Right now there's nothing to worry about _ we're either going to be in or we're out. We've just got to work as hard as we can to control our own destiny and get the finishes we need to get ourselves back in the top 10. Or we've got to be good enough to win one or two more races and guarantee ourselves a spot with a wild-card berth."
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