Kurt Busch Finishes 39th In Aaron's 499 At Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch fought back from a continuous vibration and made up a lost lap only to get caught up in a late-race multi-car crash and...
Kurt Busch Finishes 39th In Aaron's 499 At Talladega
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2008) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch fought back from a continuous vibration and made up a lost lap only to get caught up in a late-race multi-car crash and get relegated to an unofficial 39-place finish in today's Aaron's 499 here at Talladega Superspeedway.
"Pretty typical of how our season has gone so far, I'd say," a dejected Busch said after climbing from his car and retreating back to the team transporter in the garage area. "The car just didn't have the speed we needed from the beginning of the race on. There was a continuous vibration that felt like it was scrubbing off speed. Once we lost the lead draft there in the early part of the race, we were helpless and fell a lap down.
"After a few cautions bunched the field back up, we were fortunate enough to be able to hang in the lead draft and get the 'Lucky Dog' to get back in the mix," Busch said. "Then unfortunately, they got to dicing it up really close - too close - and we got caught up in the 'big one' here today. It looked like the 20 (Tony Stewart) car tried to go for a hole that closed and clipped the 43 car (Bobby Labonte) and that triggered the crash. Labonte came back up the track and pinned me against the 01 car (Ragan Smith) and they just stacked up all around.
"It was another bad day for the Miller Lite Dodge and that's about all you can say," said Busch. "This was a race where we had high hopes to do really well and things just didn't turn out that way. It's very disappointing."
Busch started today's race from the 23rd starting spot and made it up to 15th when Matt Kenseth, running directly in front of Busch, blew a tire and crashed to bring out the first yellow flag of the day on Lap 19.
"The car is just really darting and I can't tell you what is wrong," Busch radioed under the yellow. After taking on four tires and making a two-round chassis adjustment, Busch lined up 14th on the Lap 23 restart.
"My car's still not able to hang with them," he radioed after the restart. "The Gibbs cars have really got a stronghold on us." He made the comment as Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch were battling it out for the lead up front.
At lap 45, the "2 car" had lost the draft and fallen to 32nd in the running order. "Something is vibrating really bad and scraping the speed off. If we can get to the finish of this race, we need to take this car somewhere and really get it checked out for straight-line speed. Something is definitely wrong."
Busch had slowed to the point that his lap times were a full two seconds slower than the leaders. Several minor incidents left debris on the track, but not significant enough to cause the caution that the Miller Lite Dodge needed at the time. NASCAR officials actually warned crew chief Pat Tryson that his driver needed to pick up the speed twice during a period between Laps 56 through 63.
The lead pack had caught Busch on Lap 62 and he fell a lap down as he hit pit road for a scheduled green-flag stop on Lap 63. A two-tire stop and additional two-round change saw him running 37th and a lap down when stops cycled around on Lap 64.
Busch hung with the lead lappers for a stretch of the race that went green until another round of green-flag stops were in order beginning on Lap 103. Under that stop, the team opted to undo all the adjustments done to their Dodge Charger so far. He was 34th and running a lap down when the stops cycled around on Lap 108.
When the second caution of the race fell on Lap 116 when Carl Edwards blew a tire and hit the wall, it was Kyle Busch in the fortunate position to get the "Lucky Dog" free pass back onto the lead lap.
Kurt Busch was 33rd and a lap down on the Lap 121 restart. He was able to hang tough and pick up his own "Lucky Dog" free pass on Lap 143 when Stewart brushed the outside wall to bring out the third caution, after getting a small tap from Dale Earnhardt Jr.
After pitting for four-tires and fuel under the yellow, Busch didn't like the vibration he felt and the team pitted again for another change of rubber before the Lap 148 restart.
Busch was 30th on the restart and was all the way back up to 13th on Lap 160 when Paul Menard spun into the tri-oval grass to cause the fourth caution of the race. All of the leaders opted to stay out for track position.
The Miller Lite Dodge was up to 12th on the Lap 163 restart and was still in that spot when the fifth yellow flag flew on Lap 164 for debris in Turn 1.
"I just can't hang with these guys," Busch radioed before restarting 12th on Lap 168.
A gallant effort by Busch to work the draft saw him move up to ninth on Lap 170. After the younger Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya almost triggered a crash on Lap 171, the three and four-wide ultra-close action did see the "big one" occur on Lap 173.
Busch appeared to almost clear the accident with an outside move, but Bobby Labonte's Dodge veered straight up the track and pinned Busch between Ragan Smith and the outside wall. The melee was devastating for Busch as a punctured radiator relegated him to the garage and ended his day.
Up front, the younger Busch had rallied to start from the point on the Lap 177 restart. Jimmie Johnson pushed Michael Waltrip into the lead three laps later when another yellow flag flew for debris.
Kyle Busch got the push he needed on the restart with five laps to go to get him back up in the lead. He blocked a move by Jeff Gordon with two laps to go and held off Juan Montoya as utter chaos broke out behind. Michael McDowell spun on the frontstretch as the field was given the white flag, indicating the final lap.
NASCAR officials chose to not display the yellow flag at the moment, but when Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray made contact, McMurray hit the wall and created another multi-car pileup. The race ended under the yellow, with Kyle Busch picking up his sixth career Sprint Cup victory. Montoya finished second, with Hamlin third, David Ragan fourth and Brian Vickers fifth. Travis Kvapil, Casey Mears, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Earnhardt rounded out the unofficial top-10 order.
Kurt Busch fell four spots to 20th in the point standings after nine races are officially in the 2008 record book and now trails leader Jeff Burton by 444 points. He trails 10th-place Carl Edwards by 181 points and is 126 points behind Montoya, who holds down the 12th spot, the cutoff position for the "Chase" for the NASCAR championship.