If Kyle Busch Didn’t Have Bad Luck, He Wouldn’t Have Any at All
Team Interstate race weekend wrap-up for July 14-15, 2012:
Untimely Caution Foils Strong Run for Interstate Batteries Team at New Hampshire
Yet again, the driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) ran up front – leading three times for 72 laps. But a untimely caution that came one lap after they had made their last pit stop, catching them a lap down, again relegated Busch to a disappointing 16th-place finish in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup race Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
“I just don’t know what to say anymore,” said Busch, who won in July 2006 at New Hampshire. “We just can’t get some things to fall our way. We have good racecars every week, and our Interstate Batteries Camry was good again this week, and things just haven’t been falling our way. We got behind early with some pit road issues but made it up with some smart calls. At the end, we pitted, and one lap later the caution comes out, and we were never able to make it back up since track position is so important here.”
After starting from the pole, Busch jumped out to an early lead and held the top spot until the first pit stop on lap 67. But on that stop, two lugnuts fell off the right rear tire, requiring a trip back around the car by the rear-tire changer to tighten. Busch also was tagged for a speeding penalty entering pit road during that stop, requiring a return to pit road for a drive-through penalty. Despite the penalty, Busch stayed on the lead lap but sat in 23rd-place, with plenty of work looming. Busch didn’t panic, as he picked off position by position, finding himself in 17th by lap 80, 11th by lap 90, and eighth by lap 151.
Busch held the eighth position from laps 151-190 until the final caution waved on lap 191. Crew chief Dave Rogers had some strategy up his sleeve to gain track position, as they were not yet in their fuel window and would have to make one more stop for fuel to make it the full 301-lap distance. While the rest of the lead lap cars pitted on lap 192, Busch and Rogers elected to stay out, vaulting them to the lead when the race restarted on lap 197.
Busch lost to lead to teammate Denny Hamlin shortly after the restart but was able to hold on to second until the Interstate Batteries Camry was scheduled to pit for the final time. But shortly after Busch came to pit road for right-side tires and fuel on lap 231, one lap later David Reutimann’s engine expired, bringing out a very untimely caution for the No. 18 team and trapping them a lap down. The team decided to stay out and take the wave-around, which moved them to the tail end of the lead lap and 18th place.
With poor track position and no fresh tires like many in front of him, all Busch could do was gain two positions over the course of the final 81-lap green flag run and scratch his head at the bad fortune that found the No. 18 team yet again.
“It was a tough day for the Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, but really proud of Kyle,” Rogers said. “He drove a great race; he drove a brilliant race. Really proud of this race team — that Toyota Camry there was fast. I think we were one of the fastest cars all day. Just gave up track position. We got caught speeding the first run there — that wasn’t Kyle’s fault. We calculate the RPM we’re supposed to run. We’ve seen some times where that’s more accurate, and we made an error in our calculations — simple error, wrong transmission ratio. Gave Kyle the wrong number, and he sped and that got us behind from the beginning. Then we were trying to play catch-up all day long. When you play catch-up, you often gamble, so we took a gamble there. It seemed to work out initially where we stayed out. Then we pitted, and the yellow came out; it just ended it for us.
“Kyle did a great job. You can’t ask for anything more from a driver to come to a track that historically isn’t one of your favorites and to be that fast, sit on pole, lead that many laps and be that fast and just be mired by adversity all day long — he had every right to get frustrated at the car, and he never did. He did a great job of keeping his emotions in check and driving with the talent he has — it just didn’t pay off today.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished second and 14th, respectively.
Kasey Kahne won the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 to score his 14th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at New Hampshire. With the victory, Kahne moved into the No. 1 wild-card position with seven races left before the 10-race, 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. He has more victories than any other driver outside the top-10 in series points, as the final two wild-card entrants will come from the two drivers that have the most victories while also sitting within the top-20 in points. Busch holds the No. 2 wild-card position. He sits 13th in points and is the highest ranking driver within the top-20 with one Sprint Cup win.
Hamlin finished 2.738 seconds behind Kahne in the runner-up spot.
With round 19 of 36 complete, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He gained two spots and sits fifth with 628 points, 79 behind series leader Kenseth. Busch lost one spot to 13th with 545 points, 162 out of first and 68 behind 10th-place Brad Keselowski. Logano lost two spots and sits 16th with 533 points, 174 away from the top spot and 80 behind Keselowski.
|Driver Standings After Race 19 of 36|
|2||—||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||691||-16||0||1||8||14|
|8||—||Martin Truex Jr.||617||-90||1||0||4||9|
Motocross: Regal Has Rough Day
With Davi Millsaps continuing to recover from a foot and ankle injury, Team Interstate’s Kyle Regal once again represented JGRMX alone in motocross competition. Regal began the first moto at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minn., with a strong start, racing in podium contention in the early laps. Unfortunately the race ended with a crash and he was scored in 35th place. The second moto once again saw Regal on the pace in the beginning of the race, running in third for several laps. During the crash in the first moto, Regal injured his back, which became too sore for him to continue, and he was unable to finish the race. He was credited with 33rd. His 35 -33 moto finishes gave him 38th overall.
Next week: The NASCAR Sprint Cup series takes a rare weekend off before returning on Sunday, July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NHRA drag racing heads to Denver, Colo., and AMA Motocross also goes west to Washougal, Wash.
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