BUSCH HOLDS POINTS LEAD FOR BALLEW AFTER MARTINSVILLE MELEE Martinsville, Virginia (March 30, 2008)-The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series didn't disappoint the fans with the on-track action at the Martinsville Speedway Saturday, March 29th in the...
BUSCH HOLDS POINTS LEAD FOR BALLEW AFTER MARTINSVILLE MELEE
Martinsville, Virginia (March 30, 2008)-The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series didn't disappoint the fans with the on-track action at the Martinsville Speedway Saturday, March 29th in the running of the Kroger 250. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship points' leader Kyle Busch piloted the No. 51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Miccosukee Resorts Toyota Tundra and hoped to make it three wins in a row but a last lap spin sent him home with a disappointing 26th place finish after leading 32 laps.
Busch started in the 11th place on the grid after posting a time of 20.038 seconds with a speed of 94.500 mph. Busch reported being tight in the center of the corners throughout the 250 lap event but was able to work his way through the pack. With numerous caution periods, Busch found himself through attrition behind teammate Denny Hamlin in the No. 15 Miccosukee Resorts and Gaming Tundra for the restart on lap 91. During that caution, radio transmissions took place between the teams asking Hamlin to let Busch lead a lap so that he could gain those valuable bonus points in order to increase his Truck Series championship points lead. The one-two duo let that happen on lap 93 where Busch took the lead but by lap 94 the lead was traded back. The two continued to battle back and forth for the lead spot when another caution flag flew. Hamlin gave up the second position to make his pit stop.
Busch restarted on lap 108 with the lead and began running the fastest lap times of the day but was told by crew chief Richie Wauters to conserve fuel since he had yet to make his planned pit stop. With only a handful of laps left of fuel, a lap truck spun in front of him with Busch nearly missing the collision. This caution flag allowed Busch to leave his point position and come down pit road for adjustments, tires and fuel. He had been reporting being tight in the center of the corners. Busch restarted in the 23rd place but moved to the 16th place position by lap 144 when another caution flew and the track was red flagged for cleanup.
Busch continued to climb through the field working up to the seventh spot by the next caution and reported being a pinch tight. While in the sixth place position, Busch struggled to pass the trucks around him reporting that he didn't have good center corner grip. After many laps trying to make a clean pass on the No. 11, Busch used the bumper to nudge him and was able to move underneath the other truck. The other truck came back on the outside trying to create havoc but ended up getting loose and losing several positions moving Busch in the fifth place by lap 203.
"The truck was a little bit tight there at the end," Busch said. "We just kept fighting and were trying to get the thing to start on exit and never really got it the way we wanted it to. We did what we could."
By lap 216, leader and eventual winner Dennis Setzer pulled away from the pack. Busch having difficulty passing looked as if he was going to settle in for a fourth place finish. But once again the caution flew with another red flag period for debris cleanup. On lap 242, Busch again tried to pass Mike Skinner for the third place position running side by side. Busch was unable to complete the pass and settled back in behind him when unexpectedly Skinner ran out of fuel giving Busch no place to go but into him. Once again the caution flag flew sending the race into overtime and set up a green/white/checkered flag finish.
At the final restart, Johnny Benson, in the second position seemed to lay back to either get a run on the leader or hold off Busch. Busch went on the inside of Benson for the spot coming to the white flag lap. Benson came down the track and Busch wheel-hopped sending Benson up the track in a spin. Busch was then tapped in the rear by the No. 88 truck also spinning and consequently taking the checkered flag in the 26th place position.
"I had a couple good runs on some guys and you just can't get alongside them enough getting in the corner," Busch said. "I thought I could get on the inside of Johnny (Benson) far enough, before he came down, but it wasn't to be. I had a little wheel-hop and it got loose and slid up the track a little and made contact. But, you'll have that sometimes in auto racing. It is Martinsville and short track racing. I'm not happy with third. I want to go up there to the top. That's what I'm here to do; to try to get the best possible finish I can for my guys and my team. I would like to congratulate Dennis Setzer and Bobby Hamilton Racing for their win tonight. That is great to have Bobby's team back in Victory Lane."