Late-Race Incident Ends Busch's Solid Run at Infineon SONOMA, Calif. (June 20, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch saw a potential top-five finish fall by the wayside in the closing laps of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon...
Late-Race Incident Ends Busch's Solid Run at Infineon
SONOMA, Calif. (June 20, 2010) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch saw a potential top-five finish fall by the wayside in the closing laps of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway as contact with another car caused a flat tire and forced him to pit under the green. The run-in with Jeff Gordon after a restart with only five laps remaining caused a flat right-rear tire and the late-race pit road visit dropped him from fifth in the running order to a 32nd-place finish.
"It's a disappointing day for our Miller Lite Dodge Team," said Busch, who fell from fourth to sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after Sunday's finish. "I guess it was just a product of these double-file restarts late in the races, especially here on the road course. The finish doesn't reflect how strong our car was. It looked like we had a top-five finish with five laps to go. I just knew that something else was going to happen, especially when they put the 47 (Ambrose) behind us. I tried to give the 24 (Jeff Gordon) all the room that I could, but he got into us so hard that he cut down our right-rear tire and we had to pit under green and lost almost 30 positions. I'm proud of my Miller Lite Dodge guys because they worked their tails off all weekend. They gave me a great race car off the hauler. We just weren't able to bring it home today. It's a tough day in the points for us, but we'll move on to New Hampshire and reload next weekend."
Busch started the race from the third spot and ran among the top seven for the majority of the race. The Steve Addington-led Penske Racing Team chased leaders Jimmie Johnson and Marcos Ambrose lap after lap and employed similar pit strategy as those two strongest cars did.
The sixth and final caution of the race fell on lap 102 of the 110-lap battle and bunched the pack up for a final double-file restart. Ambrose had been leading and holding Johnson off during the laps leading up to the final yellow. In his effort to conserve fuel under the yellow, Ambrose stalled his Toyota heading up the hill out of Turn 1. When Johnson and several other drivers passed, NASCAR officials ruled that Ambrose had not maintained proper speed as the leader and he was dropped to seventh for the lap 106 restart.
Johnson lined up as the leader, with Robby Gordon second, Greg Biffle third, Kevin Harvick fourth, Busch fifth, Kasey Kahne sixth, Ambrose seventh, Gordon eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ninth and Jeff Burton 10th. Things got incredibly aggressive when the green flag was displayed again with the cars almost four-wide at the top of the hill in the Turn 2 area.
"We just got clobbered by Jeff Gordon and I think we have a right-front tire going flat," Busch said on the team radio as he started slowing and other cars were going by. "I'm gonna have to bring it to you." Addington called his driver to pit road for right-side tires and Busch fell 27 positions from his last circuit around this 1.99-mile layout. It turned out to be a flat right-rear tire that was caused by the incident with Gordon.
Johnson claimed his first-ever career road course win Sunday afternoon, with Robby Gordon finishing second for his best finish since August 2005 at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Harvick finished third, with Kahne fourth and Jeff Gordon fifth. Ambrose was sixth, with Bifflle, Boris Said, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya rounding out today's top-10 finishers.
Harvick continues to lead the point standings with 2,334 points. Johnson's win moved him up to second (with 2,194 points). Kyle Busch (2,193) is third, with Denny Hamlin (2,183) fourth and Jeff Gordon (2,142) fifth. Kurt Busch (2,118) is sixth, followed by Matt Kenseth (2,092), Burton (2,027), Biffle (2,011), Stewart (1,983), Mark Martin (1,947) and Carl Edwards (1,932) rounding out the top-12 drivers.
With 10 races remaining to determine the players in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the "Blue Deuce" driver is currently 216 points behind leader Harvick. He trails second-place Johnson by 76 points and is 75 behind his brother in third. The deficit to fourth is 65 and he is 24 points out of fifth. His "buffer" to 13th-place Earnhardt is 243 points.
The Sprint Cup tour now heads from one coast to the other as the series visits the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend.