Kurt Busch Finishes 32nd At Infineon SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) - After starting third in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, a skirmish only a third of the way through the race caused a tire rub, forcing Miller Lite Dodge ...
Kurt Busch Finishes 32nd At Infineon
SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) - After starting third in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, a skirmish only a third of the way through the race caused a tire rub, forcing Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch to have to pit under the green. Going a lap down to the leaders on Lap 49, Busch was never able to make up the lost ground and had to settle for a 32nd-place finish.
"It was another tough day for us here and pretty typical of how this season is going," said Busch, who fell to the 22nd spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points after today's finish. "Same stuff, but a different day.
"We've just got to get caught up with the bump stop aspect," said Busch. "We started out pretty decent, but as the laps wore on the car would just get really mushy and we could get no grip at all with the front tires. We tried to help it by making an air pressure adjustment on the first pit stop, but that made it even worse.
"What really ruined our day was getting the tire rub while racing so hard with the 41 car and the 01 car," Busch continued. "It was just a matter of time before we blew the tire or NASCAR black-flagged us, so we had to pit under green. We lost a lap and just never could make it back up. Just our luck that when we finally got in a spot to get the 'lucky dog' and get the lap back there were less than 10 laps remaining and there is no free pass given then.
"It's disappointing and frustrating but all you can do is pick up the pieces and go on," Busch concluded.
After starting third, Busch climbed as high as second on Lap 8. He held the runner-up spot behind leader Jimmie Johnson, until Robby Gordon got around on Lap 21. Busch had fallen to sixth when the first round of green-flag stops began on Lap 27.
The first caution flag of the race fell on Lap 30 when Joe Nemechek and David Ragan got together and spun in Turn 11. Several drivers had already pitted and were able to gain track position as the drivers who had not pitted yet had to hit pit road under the yellow. Busch's Lap 31 pit stop saw him get four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Busch fell from running sixth before the caution to lining up 16th on the Lap 33 restart. The change made under the stop made the handling worse. "It's got even less grip than it had before," Busch radioed. "We're going to have to drop the track bar or something."
Busch had fallen to 19th on Lap 48 when he sustained sheet metal damage while battling hard for position with Scott Pruett and Ron Fellows. With the metal bent into the right rear tire, Busch was forced to hit pit road under the green for four fresh tires and to make repairs. The 24.929 seconds spent in his pits, plus stalling on his exit saw him fall down a lap to the leader.
Busch had fallen to 40th and running one lap down at the race's midpoint. The remainder of the race saw Busch and his No. 2 Dodge team strive to get the "Lucky Dog" free pass and return to the lead lap. He managed to work himself into eligibility for the free pass on the Lap 77 restart after the third caution of the race. He held that distinction for the remainder of the race.
Unfortunately for Busch, the caution flag did not fall again until David Reutimann crashed hard into the tire barrier on Lap 101. The NASCAR rule book stipulates that the "free pass" is not awarded when there are 10 laps or less remaining in the race.
"That's pretty much par for course," Busch radioed when crew chief Pat Tryson informed him of the situation. Attrition helped Busch advance up to a 32nd-place finish.
Up front in today's race, it was Kyle Busch, who started 30th, taking the lead when Greg Biffle spun on Lap 33. The younger Busch went on to dominate, leading the most laps and posting his fifth victory of the season. The race went into overtime when Pruett's Dodge dropped fluids on the track, forcing officials to bring out the red flag after Lap 107 for a lengthy cleanup.
After the Lap 110 restart, Kyle Busch easily held off David Gilliland to take the win. Gilliland came home second, with Jeff Gordon third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Casey Mears fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya was sixth, Ryan Newman seventh, Matt Kenseth eighth, Carl Edwards ninth and Tony Stewart 10th.
After 16 races, Kyle Busch leads the Sprint Cup standings by 103 over Jeff Burton. Matt Kenseth climbed to 12th in the standings with his first career top-10 finish on this track he recorded today. Kenseth has 1,892 points. Kurt Busch is now 22nd in the standings with 1,604 points, meaning he is 288 points out of 12th.