Monday, September 22, 2014

Busch Perseveres For Critical Top-10 Finish

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch didn’t come to New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday to finish eighth, but after a rollercoaster ride that saw him declare his car “destroyed” at one point, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver will happily settle for a hard-fought eighth-place finish in the Sylvania 300.

The day started well for Busch and his M&Ms Toyota team. He rolled off the grid fifth and ran solidly in the Top-10 for the first two-thirds of the race. But when teammate Matt Kenseth turned sideways after contact with Jamie McMurray on Lap 188, Busch was left with nowhere to go. He plowed into the back of Kenseth’s slowing racer, then was tagged from behind by Kasey Kahne. The contact sent Busch spinning through the infield grass and badly damaged the nose, hood and right-front fender of his machine.

“It’s absolutely destroyed,” said Busch to crew chief Dave Rogers via in-car radio, resigning himself to the latest in a career-long series of Chase setbacks.

Not so fast, though.

After surveying the damage on pit road, Rogers orchestrated a series of pit stops that allowed his team to repair the damage while still clinging to the lead lap. A series of late-race caution flags tightened the field, and Busch did the rest, making a ballsy, four-wide move on a green/white/checkered flag restart that pushed him from 12th to eighth in the final rundown.

Battered and bowed, Busch persevered
“We kept working on it,” said Busch after the race, typically unsatisfied but still appreciative of the effort that went into his eighth-place showing. “We kept fighting it and put fresh tires on every chance we could. We came back for a really good finish, all things considered. And how bad it could have been.”

Rogers, meanwhile, gave full credit to his driver for remaining focused and making a big-league move to crack the Top-10.

“Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. calls it the way he sees it, (and) he made a comment afterward,” said Rogers. “He said, ‘If a guy’s going to put it on your quarter panel, four-wide going into (Turn) One, he can have it.’ He gave Kyle a big compliment and Kyle deserved it. He wanted it. He wanted to carry this team to the best finishing position possible, and he did just that.”

After a seventh-place finish in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago, Busch is now a comfortable fifth in championship points heading into this Sunday’s elimination race at Dover International Speedway. He is 28 points ahead of teammate Denny Hamlin (currently the first man out of title contention), and while there are no guarantees on a track dubbed “The Monster Mile,” Busch and his team need only a steady day at Dover to advance to the Contender Round.

“I can’t be more pleased with the effort,” said Rogers afterward. “Everyone dreams of a championship full of roses and good times, but the truth is, if you’re ever going to win the championship at this level, you have to endure days like today. I’m proud of my guys for doing that.

“They did a good job of making repairs whenever we could; playing the whole game, flag to flag. Then Kyle put the team on his shoulders, picking us up and carrying us to the fourth lane, making a four-wide pass to come up eighth.”

There is still a long way to go before the championship trophy is awarded at Homestead Miami Speedway next month. Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing team has yet to show the dominant, pure speed of either Team Penske or Hendrick Motorsports, but Sunday’s effort proved their ability to overcome adversity and prevail on a day that in past seasons might have gone awry.
At least for now, that’s enough.


  1. Anonymous2:55 PM

    Busch has the best over the wall crew in NASCAR, six years running. Yesterday was teamwork with a capital T, something most folks don't believe is possible from Busch, and the ability of a driver once again who always finds a way to turn adversity into the best possible finish. The only thing better would have been for him to have been two laps down at the back of the field and come back, but he's no stranger to that dilemma either.

  2. Anonymous12:03 PM

    wow, they come here to bash Kyle when he does wrong, nobody shows up when he does good? NASCAR, yep, NASCAR.