Busch Brings Home Solid Sixth-Place Finish at Dover Interstate Batteries Team Remains Third in Chase Standings, 45 Points Behind Leader Hamlin With a little more than 100 laps to go in Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover...
Busch Brings Home Solid Sixth-Place Finish at Dover
Interstate Batteries Team Remains Third in Chase Standings, 45 Points Behind Leader Hamlin
With a little more than 100 laps to go in Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, it appeared as if Kyle Busch might be a threat to bring home his second consecutive Sprint Cup victory at the 1-mile, concrete oval.
But after leading laps 293-338, a tight-handling condition developed on his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota which caused Busch to drop in the running order. Despite the setback, the talented 25-year old held on for a solid sixth-place finish.
"We definitely had a better can than where we finished," said Busch, who recorded his 16th top-10 result of the season and his seventh at Dover. "There through about lap 300 or so, I thought we had a car capable of winning. We were fast. If I drove it a little bit over my head and a little harder, it was faster than the '48' (Jimmie Johnson), but I about wrecked a couple times so I just backed up and rode there. Waited for another pit stop to try to adjust on it and we did, but we couldn't get the tight back out of it.
"We were loose and then we tightened it back up, and once we did that last tighten-up, we just couldn't get it back. We were just too tight the rest of the day. We thought we should've finished second. That's where this Interstate Batteries Camry should've run. The '48' was probably the best car today. We'll take it. Not where we want to be, but another solid top-10."
Busch started 11th in the 400-lap race and hung around just inside the top-10 until the first pit stop of the day on lap 40. On that stop, crew chief Dave Rogers went to work adjusting on a car that was too loose for Busch's liking, especially on the exit of the track's corners. Rogers helped bring the Interstate Batteries Toyota to life over the course of the first two pit stops of the day with a combination of air pressure and wedge adjustments. Busch moved up to fifth by lap 128, third after a lap-189 pit stop, and moved into second on lap 203.
Even a brush with the SAFER Barrier coming off turn two on lap 248 that involved an incredible save couldn't derail Busch, as the Las Vegas native remained in second-place until the caution waved on lap 290. Quick service by his Interstate Batteries team on lap 292 helped vault Busch past leader Johnson in the race off pit road. On the subsequent restart, Busch got a great jump on Johnson and teammate Joey Logano. The Interstate Batteries driver led the next 46 circuits, but his Toyota developed a very tight handling condition that allowed Johnson to catch and then pass Busch on lap 339.
Still battling the aforementioned tight condition, Busch slipped to fifth-place by lap 361 as he and his team hoped they could loosen the No. 18 Toyota up on the last pit stop in order to regain those spots lost on the previous run. But an air pressure adjustment on the last stop did little to get rid of the tight racecar. From there, all Busch could do was hold on for the sixth-place finish, keeping the big picture of the series championship in mind.
"We could've been a lot better today," said Busch. "I'm disappointed with that. We got loose there and then we made an adjustment to tighten it up and we just never got the tight back out of the car. But, Dave (Rogers) did a great job. All the guys did a great job on pit road. I feel like we're fine where we're at, but we're not showing anything yet and maybe we don't have to do that until five races to go."
Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates, Logano and Denny Hamlin, finished third and ninth, respectively.
Johnson beat Jeff Burton by 2.637 seconds to win the AAA 400 and score the 53rd victory of his Sprint Cup career, his sixth of the season and his sixth at Dover.
Finishing fourth behind Logano was Kurt Busch, while Carl Edwards took fifth. Paul Menard came home seventh behind Kyle Busch, while Ryan Newman, Hamlin and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were four caution periods for 19 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish.
Both Busch and Hamlin represent JGR in this year's Chase for the Championship. Hamlin remained at the top of the standings where he's now 35 markers ahead of second-place Johnson. Busch held onto his third position in the standings and is 45 points behind Hamlin.
Logano's third-place result helped him to jump up two spots to 20th in the standings with 3,106 points.