DOVER, Del. (June 4, 2007) -- The finishing order shows Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch placing 42nd in Monday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by VISA at Dover International Speedway. The statistics show that as a result, Busch fell from ninth...
DOVER, Del. (June 4, 2007) -- The finishing order shows Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch placing 42nd in Monday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by VISA at Dover International Speedway.
The statistics show that as a result, Busch fell from ninth to 11th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. But nowhere will there be found all of the facts that led to Busch's tough day on the track known as the "Monster Mile."
Busch had cleared Greg Biffle on lap 250 for ninth and closed in on a back-peddling Tony Stewart. Stewart, who was fifth on lap 222, could not maintain the pace and had been passed by Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson. Busch was running lap times some 15/100ths of a second per lap faster than Stewart for 10 consecutive laps, but when he managed to catch and challenge the No. 20 car for the eighth spot, there was no give-and-take.
Unfortunately, the television and radio coverage of Monday's race did not document these incidents, stemming back to the lap 31 restart after the day's first competition yellow: Busch was 16th on the restart and Stewart was 17th. An impatient Stewart got into the rear of Busch, almost spinning the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Move forward to the lap 72 restart after the second competition yellow was displayed on lap 66. Busch lined up 13th and Stewart 14th. Same song, different verse.
"I raced the guy all day long and for some reason he just didn't give an inch," Busch said after the lap 271 crash sent both drivers to the garage. "We raced about 15 laps there side-by-side and I had about 90 percent of my car past him and he wrecked me flat out. I was maybe not clear by a few inches, but he bumped me on another restart, he hit me on another restart. I have no idea what Tony Stewart had for us today. He finally wrecked me. He got accomplished what he wanted to do. I'm still very confused by it.
"We were racing real well, 10-15 laps side-by-side. My car was just inching on him. He hit me on a couple of other restarts. I really don't know what he was all about today. He didn't give an inch. I saw a ton of cars stack up in the mirror behind us, which meant we were racing way too hard. He didn't want to give an inch. He hit me on the restarts twice. I think he got his mission accomplished. I have no idea (if this stemmed from something else), but I know that he hit us so many times today; mission accomplished for Tony.
"I wanted to make a point, but when you make a point like that it always ends up making it worse. It was my fault for doing that. The issue was out on the race track. It was not on pit road."
Busch was relegated to the garage for the remainder of the race and watched the closing laps from the No. 2 team transporter.
"Regardless of what went on here today at Dover, the fact that the sport lost Bill France Jr. makes everything -- everything -- secondary," Busch said after a lengthy cool-down period. "We extend our sympathy to Mrs. France, Brian, Lesa and the entire France family."
After Busch stopped abruptly beside Stewart's car on pit road to show his displeasure, NASCAR officials parked the No. 2 car for the day and he was forced to join crew chief Troy Raker in the NASCAR hauler after the race for a discussion of the safety issues caused by Busch's actions.
With 13 races now in the record book for 2007, Busch is 11th in the NEXTEL Cup points. With 1,439 points, he trails 10th-place Kyle Busch by 32 points. He has a four-point advantage over 12th-place Martin and is 12 points ahead of 13th-place Martin Truex Jr., who won the rain-delayed race.
"Man, I don't know what Tony's deal with Kurt was out there today," said one of the team members as they loaded the wrecked No. 2 Dodge into the team hauler. "That guy's always had a short fuse. You never know. He may be ticked off at Kurt because he can't make it to his big dirt track race on Wednesday -- that deal on HBO -- pay-per-view -- the 'Thrilla-In-Manilla' or whatever the heck they're calling that crap. No disrespect to the event and it's for a great cause, but Tony's pick at Kurt could stem from something that petty, believe me."
The NEXTEL Cup circuit now heads to Pocono Raceway for next Sunday's Pocono 500. Busch finished second in both races at Pocono last season.