Kyle Busch was strong early in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, but a mechanical issue caused him to complete only 202 of the scheduled 400 laps and finish 29th in the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks.
“Unfortunately we had a valve spring break (in the engine) and then dropped the valve, which hit the pistons,” said Busch who won at Dover in June 2008 and May 2010. “It’s real unfortunate. You know, we had good car. We were running up front there. We were biding our time trying to see if we couldn’t keep up with the racetrack. This M&M’s Camry was good. Just didn’t have enough for the front couple, I don’t think, but a third-place car. I hate it that we give a post-race interview this way rather than finishing. I just hate it for these guys; they’ve worked so hard. We had some really good runs going as of late, finishing in the top-five.”
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), started eighth and was in the top-five for much of the first 166 laps of the event. A minor hiccup occurred on lap 167, when Busch pitted under caution in fifth place and left his pit box with two lug nuts unsecured on the left rear wheel. That forced Busch to return to pit road so the M&M’s crew could tighten the lug nuts one lap later, and he restarted the race 18th.
From there, Busch began fighting back to the front. But before he and crew chief Dave Rogers could make a serious charge, Busch’s engine expired, ending their day.
Busch’s JGR companions – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished eighth and 18th, respectively.
Jimmie Johnson won the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks to score his 57th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his seventh at Dover. Johnson is now tied with NASCAR legends Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for most career Sprint Cup Series victories at Dover.
Kevin Harvick finished 2.550 seconds behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Logano, Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 32 laps, with 17 drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
With round 13 of 36 complete, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He is fourth with 464 points, 22 behind series leader Greg Biffle. Busch stands ninth with 406 points, 80 out of first. Logano is 16th with 350 points, 136 away from the top spot.