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Millsaps Makes Podium in Indy; JGR Struggles in Bristol

March 19th, 2012 by

Team Interstate wrap-up for March 17-18, 2012

Millsaps (left) grabs 2nd straight podium

Team Interstate's Davi Millsaps (left, in blue) grabbed his second straight podium with Saturday's third-place finish in Indianapolis. Ryan Villopoto (center) won the event, while former JGRMX rider Justin Brayton finished second. (image via vitalmx.com)

JGRMX rider Davi Millsaps scored his second straight podium Saturday, a lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal weekend for Team Interstate. Teammate James Stewart, coming off a win in Daytona last weekend, encountered difficulty on the first lap of the first heat race. He fell down hard and was run into by two competitors’ motorcycles. Medical personnel evaluated Stewart, and the team decided to keep him out of the last-chance qualifier.  His condition will be thoroughly evaluated this week.

Millsaps, who earned his first podium of the 2012 season last Saturday at Daytona, qualified for the main event without incident in the second heat race. Unfortunately, Millsaps found himself mid-pack at the start of the main event. Charging forward, Millsaps began steadily moving through the field. By the halfway mark, Millsaps was in the top five, and with four laps remaining he took over third place.
 
“It’s amazing, I can’t thank my team enough,” Millsaps said to the SPEED live broadcast audience. “Toyota, Yamaha, JGR, my trainer, everyone who has been behind me, my mechanic Ben, all my sponsors, FMF, Feld, O’Neal, SIDI, I just can’t thank them enough, you know, pushing me and pushing me getting me up here (on the podium). It was really slick in a lot of sections, pretty much everywhere it was really slick. Pirelli has been working really hard for us, and we had the tires really down tonight. I’m just pumped to be up here.”
 
Stewart and Millsaps sit third and fourth respectively in series points.
 
Kyle Busch and the 18 team tried the open-wheel look at Bristol.

Kyle Busch and the 18 team tried the open-wheel look at Bristol. Copyright 2012 AutoStock Images

Sprint Cup: Busch Collected in Early Accident

Kyle Busch’s bid to win a sixth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway barely lasted five minutes Sunday after he was caught in a lap-23 incident during the Food City 500 that heavily damaged the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry for Team Interstate/Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 18:  Carl Edwards, driver ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Busch and the rest of the 43-car field were just getting settled in for 500 laps of racing around the 0.533-mile, high-banked concrete oval when, while running 12th, he and Marcos Ambrose were collected by the No. 5 racecar of Kasey Kahne and the No. 78 of Regan Smith, who were stopped sideways against the outside SAFER Barrier entering turn one. Busch limped his No. 18 Toyota back to the garage with heavy front-end damage. The crew worked fast and furiously to cut away bent sheet metal and replace key front-end components and got Busch back on track 72 laps later, in 39th place, without a hood and front fenders.

From there, Busch made up seven positions and brought his wounded racecar home in 32nd place, 77 laps down.

“What happened today was really nobody’s fault,” said Crew Chief Dave Rogers, who guided Busch to his last two Bristol victories in back-to-back fashion in August 2010 and March 2011. “It’s just a product of racing here. Nobody did anything wrong. But I’m really proud of our guys today. A lot of really good teams were involved in that early wreck, and we were the first ones back out there on the track and we were running pretty competitive laps the rest of the way, all things considered. We picked up seven points by getting back out there and finishing the race the way we did.”

Busch’s Team Interstate companions – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished 16th and 20th, respectively.

Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second consecutive victory at Bristol.

Next week: NASCAR heads to Auto Club Speedway in California, where Kyle Busch returns to the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry. AMA Supercross goes to Toronto and NHRA drag racing hits the strip at Las Vegas.

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