Busch Scores Solid Runner-Up Finish at Michigan Result Helps Interstate Batteries Team Clinch Spot in Chase for the Championship Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), notched a solid ...
Busch Scores Solid Runner-Up Finish at Michigan
Result Helps Interstate Batteries Team Clinch Spot in Chase for the Championship
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), notched a solid second-place finish in Sunday's 3M Performance 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
The runner-up effort was Busch's series-leading 14th top-five finish in 2008, and the strong run helped Busch and the No. 18 team clinch a spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with three races still remaining before the field is set for the final, 10-race Chase.
"It was a decent run for this Interstate Batteries Toyota," said Busch, who led twice for 34 laps. "I felt like it was way better and far better than what it was here in the spring. We ran up front all day long and that was nice to see. We made gains and got a lot better from what we had at the start of the race, but we just didn't have enough for the 99 (Carl Edwards) there at the end."
After starting 11th, Busch struggled with a loose race car from the outset of the 200-lap race. During his first pit stop on lap 23, crew chief Steve Addington directed air pressure and track bar adjustments and ordered a spring rubber to be inserted into the right-rear suspension coil to tighten up the Interstate Batteries machine. Those changes quickly improved the handling of Busch's Toyota, and as a result, he stayed in the top-five for the remainder of the race.
The 23-year old Las Vegas native battled eventual winner Edwards and led laps 142-165 and 170-179. But after getting beat off pit road by Edwards' No. 99 team during the final stop of the day, Busch was unable to mount a challenge on Edwards, who wound up leading five times for a race-high 84 laps.
"We just didn't quite have the car capable enough of being able to beat those guys today," said Busch, whose second-place run was his career best Sprint Cup finish at Michigan. "It just came down to when he beat us off pit road. That was it for us. We were good there on one set of tires, and then that was pretty much all we had. Steve Addington made great calls all day long and the guys gave me a great car to be able to come home second. We weren't that competitive here in the spring, so I'm glad to come out of here with something to build on."
A late caution on lap 196 due to an engine failure within the car of Busch's JGR teammate Denny Hamlin gave Busch brief hope that he might have a shot at the win, but Edwards quickly closed the door, as he pulled away when the race restarted for the two-lap shootout. Resigned to the fact that he couldn't catch Edwards, Busch smartly refrained from pushing his car beyond what it was capable of and stayed ahead of third-place finisher David Ragan.
Busch remains the lead JGR driver in the championship point race. He continues to be the series' point leader, but his lead has been trimmed to 222 markers over second-place Edwards, who won his fifth race of the season by taking the checkers in the 3M Performance 400.
Busch's JGR teammates -- Tony Stewart and Hamlin -- finished 12th and 39th, respectively. Stewart gained one position to climb to sixth in points and Hamlin dropped three spots to 12th. Stewart is 558 points behind Busch while Hamlin sits 694 points arrears Busch.