Joe Gibbs Racing press release
Busch Experiences Pain at the Pump in Chicagoland
Doublemint Driver Finishes Disappointing 22nd After Running Out of Gas
An untimely encounter with debris and a lack of fuel when it mattered relegated Kyle Busch to a disappointing 22nd-place finish in Monday’s rain-postponed Geico 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
Busch, who started ninth, led once for seven laps and was in the top-15 for much of the 267-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval, but as the 400-mile contest drew to a close, the racing gods were not kind to the driver of the No. 18 Doublemint® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
While in 10th place on lap 214, the front of Busch’s Toyota slammed into a large piece of unidentified debris as he exited turn two. Television replays were inconclusive as to where the debris may have originated from, but the force of impact with Busch’s car was enough to break the item in half.
Due to the debris on the track, NASCAR officials called for a caution that allowed crew chief Dave Rogers and the Doublemint team to look over the car for any issues from the impact. It was decided that just minor repairs were needed, and after pitting for a bit of tape on the hood and some fuel, Busch restarted the race in 10th place.
Unfortunately, Busch soon radioed that his car was the loosest it had been all day, and it was a good bet that the encounter with the debris a few laps earlier was the most likely culprit.
Despite the ill-handling car, Busch soldiered to seventh place with just four laps remaining. But like most of the field, he was aggressively saving fuel as final pit stops had taken place on lap 215, 52 laps shy of the finish.
With two laps remaining, Busch’s car, along with several others in the top-10, began to sputter, and he came to pit road for a splash of fuel. It was too little, too late, however, as the late pit stop put him one lap down and forced him to an uncharacteristic finish outside the top-20.
“We had a good car and kept fighting back all day long,” said Busch, who won at Chicagoland in July 2008. “But once we hit that debris it made the car really loose and I was doing the best I could. I still hoped we could finish in the top-10. I saved as much fuel as I could, but I guess it just wasn’t enough and we ran out with two to go. Just really disappointing day for everyone on this Doublemint Camry.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished 16th and 31st, respectively.
Tony Stewart won the Geico 400 to score his 40th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Chicagoland. Stewart is now tied with Mark Martin for 16th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list and has won a race in each of his 13 Sprint Cup seasons – the longest such streak among active drivers.
Kevin Harvick finished .941 of a second behind Stewart in the runner-up spot, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Martin and Jimmie Johnson comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 25 laps, with six drivers failing to finish.
Busch and Hamlin represent JGR in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch came into Chicagoland seeded first, but fell to ninth in the point standings, 19 markers behind new leader Harvick.
Hamlin entered Chicagoland 12th in the standings, 12 points behind his Busch. He remained 12th in the standings, but is now 41 points behind Harvick.
Logano is 21st in the standings with 699 points.