Busch's Two Cut Tires Makes for Long Day at Dover Interstate Batteries Driver Hits Wall Twice, Finishes Disappointing 31st Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), appeared to have a car very...
Busch's Two Cut Tires Makes for Long Day at Dover
Interstate Batteries Driver Hits Wall Twice, Finishes Disappointing 31st
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), appeared to have a car very capable of winning Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. However, two cut right-front tires and two subsequent brushes with the outside retaining wall did enough damage to relegate Busch to a disappointing 31st-place finish.
"We cut down a tire twice today and each time ended up in the wall," said Busch at the conclusion of the 400-lap race. "The second time, we hit hard enough that we had to go to the garage and fix it. We've got to figure out why it happened and make sure we correct it. It's disappointing for Interstate Batteries and all these guys."
After starting 15th, Busch methodically worked his way into the top-10 in the early part of the race, while his pit crew, as they have throughout several races this season, gained him spots on pit road during his lap-86 pit stop.
Busch and crew chief Steve Addington were tinkering with the handling of the Interstate Batteries Toyota and getting it to Busch's liking as the race neared the 161st lap. It was on lap 161 when Busch was due to pit for the third time of the day, and upon coming to his pit stall, Addington planned to make an air pressure adjustment to all four tires during the scheduled green-flag stop.
Unfortunately, on lap 160 the right-front tire on Busch's No. 18 machine sustained a puncture, and the air rapidly deflated from the tire, forcing the car up the racetrack and into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall between turns three and four.
After that first brush with the wall, Busch came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a check of the damage before rejoining the race 25th, one lap down.
Despite the unfortunate encounter with the wall, all was not lost as Busch worked his way up near the top-20 to become the first car one lap down, meaning that if a caution came out, he would get his lap back via the "Lucky Dog" rule.
However, just past the halfway point, another cut right-front tire caused Busch to again hit the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall in turn three. The second hit was harder than the first, and Busch and the Interstate Batteries team were forced to the garage for lengthy repairs of the right side of the car.
Busch eventually returned to the track to finish 31st, but completed only 342 of the 400 scheduled laps.
His JGR teammates, Denny Hamlin and rookie Joey Logano finished 22nd and 42nd, respectively. Logano was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 30 in which his car flipped several times in turn three. He walked away from the accident and was checked and released without injury from the infield care center.
Jimmie Johnson beat his Hendrick Motorsport teammate Mark Martin by 1.970 seconds to win the AAA 400 and score the 44th victory of his Sprint Cup career, his fourth of the season and his fifth at Dover. The win put Johnson in a tie with Bill Elliott for 14th on the all-time Sprint Cup victory list.
Finishing third was Matt Kenseth, while Juan Pablo Montoya and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, A.J. Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 38 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the race.
With only eight races remaining in the Sprint Cup season, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings, as he is JGR's lone representative in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship. Hamlin is sixth in the standings, 108 markers behind Chase leader Mark Martin. Busch and Logano each fell one spot to 14th and 20th, respectively, in the standings.