Busch Rallies from First-Lap Spin to Post Top-10 Finish at Indy M&M's Driver Posts Best Finish in More than a Month, Remains Sixth in Points While Kyle Busch didn't exactly get the start he was hoping for, he was able to leave Indianapolis...
Busch Rallies from First-Lap Spin to Post Top-10 Finish at Indy
M&M's Driver Posts Best Finish in More than a Month, Remains Sixth in Points
While Kyle Busch didn't exactly get the start he was hoping for, he was able to leave Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a finish much more to his liking.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) overcame a first-lap spin and rallied for a solid eighth-place finish in Sunday's 17th running of the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
After starting 23rd, the Las Vegas native had his M&M's Camry suddenly snap loose upon the exit of turn two on the initial circuit of the 160-lap race. Fortunately, his No. 18 Camry experienced very minor damage as he slid through the infield grass and made only slight contact with the Dodge of Sam Hornish Jr.
"I don't know what happened there on the opening lap," said Busch, who posted his fourth top-10 finish in six career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. "I just lost it. It just went around. I had trouble every restart really trying to get going, especially through (turns) one and two. All in all, we came back and bounced back solidly, so that was good. It didn't really have any impact on the car. The car handled alright. We were a little bit tight all day. We kind of got it loose a couple times and it was fast that way, but man it was so edgy to drive, I didn't want to wreck the thing. We just needed a solid run today."
Soon after his spin, Busch brought his Camry to the attention of the M&M's team, who cleaned the grill and patched a small hole in the left-front quarter panel without losing a lap.
When the race restarted on lap seven, the talented 25-year-old found himself in 35th-place and with a lot of work ahead of him to get back into contention. But, it didn't take Busch very long to start working his way to the front, as he moved up to 28th by lap eight, 18th by lap 16, 12th by lap 38, ninth by lap 50, and all the way up to seventh by lap 100.
Along with strong stops all race long by the M&M's over-the-wall team, crew chief Dave Rogers primarily worked on the car's tight handling condition in the center of the track's corners. Rogers used a combination of air pressure and track bar adjustments in the two remaining pit stops of the 400-mile race, while making sure not to hinder Busch's handling while exiting the corners.
By the time of the second-to-last caution flag waved on lap 139, Busch came to pit road for the final time on lap 140, where Rogers went with four tires, while many other teams took right-side tires only in an effort to gain track position. From there, Busch restarted 10th and fought hard to bring home an impressive top-10 finish on a day that could've easily ended in disaster after the first-lap spin.
"We fought all day," Busch said. "We saved the day. It was just a mistake made early there that almost had us in big, big trouble. Fortunately, we came back. We've had a really tough time over the past four or five races, so it was good to bounce back, but also to finally just get a good solid finish because it's been awhile since we've been able to do that."
Busch's JGR teammates -- Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin -- finished ninth and 15th, respectively.
Jamie McMurray won the Brickyard 400 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Indianapolis. McMurray also won the 2010 Daytona 500, making him just the third driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season. Dale Jarrett first accomplished the feat in 1996, while Jimmie Johnson won both races in 2006.
Championship point leader Kevin Harvick finished 1.391 seconds behind race-winner McMurray, while Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Logano and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 25 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.
With 20 of 36 races in the books, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship standings. He gained one spot to move to third and now has 2,660 points and is 260 markers back of series leader Harvick. Busch remained sixth in points. He has 2,630 points and is 290 points arrears Harvick. Logano maintained his 19th position in the standings. He has 2,241 points and is 679 markers down to Harvick and 205 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with six races remaining before the Chase begins.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 1 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.