Busch Survives to Bring Home Top-10 Finish at Talladega Pedigree Driver Leads 22 laps, Parlays Ninth-Place Finish into Fifth Position in the Sprint Cup Standings Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), led...
Busch Survives to Bring Home Top-10 Finish at Talladega
Pedigree Driver Leads 22 laps, Parlays Ninth-Place Finish into Fifth Position in the Sprint Cup Standings
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), led eight times for 22 laps, and more importantly, avoided being collected in one of several multi-car accidents, to bring home a solid ninth-place finish in Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The result was Busch's third consecutive top-10 finish and vaulted him to fifth-place in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.
"We had a really, really fast race car," said Busch, who won at Talladega in April 2008. "It was just unfortunate for our Pedigree Toyota that we didn't have the right things go our way there late. Overall, we led some laps, our car was good in the draft, just trying to push people. Just circumstances there at the end and things just didn't fall our way to have a shot to win."
The talented 24-year old started the race in the sixth position, but quickly jumped to the front of the pack to lead the first two laps, showing early that he had one of the strongest cars in the 43-car field. But in a race that saw eight caution periods for 32 laps, including four yellows in the last 24 circuits, just surviving also proved to be a challenge.
While he was up front nearly the entire race, Busch got shuffled from the lead draft on lap 169 and fell outside the top-15 for the first time all race. Despite the setback, the Las Vegas native patiently carved his way back toward the front of the pack as he neared the conclusion of the scheduled 188-lap distance.
When three separate multi-car accidents forced the maximum three attempts to be made at a green-white-checker finish, Busch and the Pedigree team were able to capitalize on each restart by moving up in the running order. Busch restarted 15th on the lap 188 restart, 10th on the second attempt at a green-white-checker finish on lap 194, and worked himself all the way to sixth for the final restart of the day on lap 198.
But as Busch worked the low line along the mammoth backstretch of the 2.66-mile oval on the final lap of the race, he was unable to get the momentum and drafting help he needed to push him up to contend for the victory. While he had to settle for the top-10 finish, just merely surviving and bringing home the Pedigree Toyota in one piece was quite the accomplishment considering all the battered racecars throughout the garage.
Busch's JGR teammates -- Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano -- finished fourth and 36th, respectively.
With nine of 36 races in the books, BuschBohnson back of XXXell/gained XX distance. t late in teh -checkred finish. leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He gained one spot to climb to fifth place with 1,163 points. He is now 160 markers back of leader Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin gained two spots to rise to ninth and has 1,138 points, 185 markers arrears Johnson. Logano fell four spots to 16th and has 1,001 points, 322 markers back.
Kevin Harvick won the Aaron's 499 to score his 12th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Talladega.
Jamie McMurray finished .011 of a second behind Harvick, while Juan Pablo Montoya, Hamlin and Mark Martin rounded out the top-five. David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Mike Bliss comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 32 laps, with 13 drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race, which was extended 12 laps past the scheduled distance due to three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. The race, which was the longest in Talladega history at 532 miles, set all-time NASCAR records for leaders (29) and lead changes (88).
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the May 1 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.