LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was strong in the early going of Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, but had to settle for a 25th-place finish in the opening race of the 2007 Chase...
LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 16, 2007) -- Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch was strong in the early going of Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, but had to settle for a 25th-place finish in the opening race of the 2007 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup championship after facing mechanical woes.
"We thought we had an engine problem, that maybe we dropped a cylinder, had a bad plug or plug wire," said Busch, who fell from fifth to 12th in the NEXTEL Cup points, yet is only 102 points behind co-leaders Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. "But it turned out that we had a problem with the carburetor. It broke a shaft internally and could not function at full capacity.
"We lost power and we tried to troubleshoot it the best that we could. It's kind of tough to accept this one. We just didn't need this to happen at this point.
"It would have been nice, maybe at Charlotte where I don't run so good, to have a motor failure. It's just tough. I guess, all-in-all, we finished 25th and it could have been more like 43rd."
Busch started third and ran among the top five until lap 119, when he radioed in, "I'm not sure, but I think we dropped a cylinder." He began falling back through the pack and had fallen to 16th on lap 141, when he pitted under a scheduled green stop.
The Pat Tryson-led team didn't get a chance to look under the hood until the third caution flag of the race fell on lap 149. The team continued to analyze the power loss during a stop on the fourth yellow on lap 165. After the fifth caution flag flew on lap 169. Busch brought his Dodge Avenger to pit road and shut off the engine. The team, aided by John Payne, engine tuner for teammate Ryan Newman, made a spark plug change under the yellow, hoping that would solve the problem.
Busch continued to race underpowered and because he had been taking on fuel during all the stops, built an almost 20-lap surplus over the lead-lap cars. Running almost a second slower than the leader, he was put a lap down by leader Clint Bowyer on lap 226. But when the lead-lap cars were forced to pit due to fuel, Busch was back on the lead lap and running as high as seventh with 40 laps remaining. Had the yellow flag flown, Busch could have stolen a top-15 finish or better.
He did not get the caution he needed and was forced to make his final stop under the green on lap 261. Busch fell to 26th, but climbed a spot during the final laps to finish 25th.
Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the point standings with 5,210. Busch is 12th with 5,108 points with nine Chase races remaining to determine the 2007 series champion.
"Jimmie Johnson didn't start off so great last year, so maybe we can make up points like he did in the next nine and win this thing," Tryson said.
"We'll make it up," Busch added. "We'll do the best we can. There is nothing you can do about problems. We got into this Chase by working hard and we'll still do it."
The NEXTEL Cup circuit returns to the "Monster Mile," Dover International Speedway, for next weekend's Dodge Dealers 400. This weekend's schedule at Dover begins on Friday with practice from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday's 3:15 p.m. single round of qualifying will set Sunday's 43-car starting field. Saturday's schedule offers practice sessions from 11-11:50 a.m. and from 1:50-2:50 p.m. Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 [400 Laps, 400 miles] has a scheduled 1:30 p.m. EDT starting time and features live coverage by ABC and MRN Radio.