Busch Soldiers to Seventh-Place Finish at New Hampshire Rain Costs Interstate Batteries Driver Potential Top-Five Result If Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race went the full distance, there's a good chance that...
Busch Soldiers to Seventh-Place Finish at New Hampshire
Rain Costs Interstate Batteries Driver Potential Top-Five Result
If Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race went the full distance, there's a good chance that Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, would have landed his fifth top-five of the 2009 season. Unfortunately, wet weather at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon cut the distance to just 273 of 301 laps, and Busch finished seventh.
Nonetheless, it was a solid effort for the Interstate Batteries driver, even with three cars in the top-seven gambling on fuel strategy due to the rain and bumping the Las Vegas native out of the top-five.
"We'll take what we got here today with the rain," Busch said. "We were watching it most of the race. We didn't know when it was coming, but it was always here or close. It hurt our chances for a good top-five or even maybe a top-four finish. I felt like the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the 2 (Kurt Busch) were right there, but our car was good all day. We were solid. We weren't great."
Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate, rookie Joey Logano, won the race by gambling on fuel as the rain approached, while fourth-place David Reutimann and sixth-place Brad Keselowski also benefitted from the race being called early.
Gordon and Kyle's older brother Kurt finished second and third, respectively.
Busch survived 11 cautions for 47 laps in the rain-shortened event, including a multi-car accident on a lap 174 restart that began when Dale Earnhardt Jr., spun his tires and Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr., made contact at the end of the frontstretch.
"I have to apologize to all those guys," Busch said. "We got bottled up there in turn one -- especially Martin and Jeff Burton and those guys. I meant nothing of that. The 88 (Earnhardt) spun his tires on the restart, I went to choose a lane, went to the middle, and the 42 (Montoya) and I got together a little bit. That pinched me with the 1 (Truex, Jr.) and I spun the 1 out and it was just mayhem from there.
"I hate it for all those guys because I know they've got 'Chase' contentions too. We were just battling for every spot out there today. Restarts are hectic, man. Everybody is fighting for every inch that's out there because it's so hard to pass with these cars. If you can get it done right now, then you can kind of single-file out for a while and then you don't have to worry about much. The sooner you can get everything done -- the quicker, the better, the more you're by yourself."
Logano's win in the rain-shortened event was his first career Sprint Cup victory, and at 19 years, one month and four days, he became the youngest winner in Sprint Cup history.
Gordon, Kurt Busch, Reutimann and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five. Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Sam Hornish Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 11 caution periods for 47 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the race.
With 17 of 36 races in the books, Denny Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings, as his 15th-place finish bumped him up one spot to sixth in points. He has 2,132 points and is 392 markers behind series leader Stewart. Busch gained one spot to climb to eighth in the standings with 2,108 points, 416 points arrears Stewart. Logano gained three spots and now sits in 21st. He has 1,741 points and is 783 points back of the lead.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the July 4 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.