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Busch Battles to 13th Place in Michigan

August 20th, 2012 by

Team Interstate racing wrap-up for Aug. 18-19, 2012:

Car Chief Wesley Sherrill and the No. 18 crew push Kyle Busch's Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry out to the starting grid in Michigan Sunday. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images.

Car Chief Wesley Sherrill and the No. 18 crew push Kyle Busch's Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry out to the starting grid in Michigan Sunday. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), battled an ill-handling racecar to a 13th-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

“We were just off all day with our Interstate Batteries Camry,” said Busch, who won the 2011 Pure Michigan 400. “We were very loose on restarts and then, when it would get strung out, our car started to get really tight from the center off. We salvaged the best finish we could, but it just wasn’t our day from the start.”

The hood of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images.

The hood of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Camry. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images.

Busch, who started 23rd, wasn’t able to make a lot of progress early on in the 400-mile race. He moved up to 16th by lap 35, but fought a tight-handling condition that also lacked rear grip. Crew Chief Dave Rogers and the Interstate Batteries team kept throwing everything they had at the No. 18 car, trying track-bar and air-pressure adjustments, and removing a spring rubber in an attempt to help the ill-handling car.

While Rogers was able to improve the car’s handling slightly, Busch still found himself running 17th near the halfway point of the 200-lap scheduled distance. But with strong green-flag stops from the Interstate Batteries team during his final two trips down pit road on lap 126 and lap 166, Busch was able to gain spots each time and sat 13th on the final green-white-checkered restart on lap 199.

Kyle Busch is strapped in and ready to go inside the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images

Kyle Busch is strapped in and ready to go inside the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry. Copyright 2012 Autostock Images

But, as seemingly was the case all afternoon, Busch was unable to gain positions, but he also didn’t lose any during the race-ending two-lap shootout. He had to settle for a disappointing but respectable 13th-place finish.

“It was a long day for the Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry race team.” Rogers said. “Everyone worked really hard and Kyle did a great job. I just didn’t put the right shocks and springs and bars in it – didn’t have enough speed in it. Kyle did a great job of staying focused and looking at the big picture. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring a fast enough racecar.”

Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished 11th and 31st, respectively.

Greg Biffle won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his 18th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his third at Michigan.

With round 23 of 36 complete, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He maintained 10th in the standings with 727 points, 96 behind new series leader Biffle and 33 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne. Busch held his 14th-place standing with 669 points, 194 out of first and 58 behind 10th-place Hamlin. Logano remained 18th with 600 points, 223 away from the top spot and 127 behind 10th.

Only the top-10 in points are locked into the 12-driver, 10-race Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points who have the most wins. In the event of multiple drivers having the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.

Kahne holds the 11th-place wild-card spot thanks to his two victories, the most of any driver outside the top-10. Ryan Newman held onto the 12th-place wild-card spot by virtue of his April 1 victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, combined with his 13th position in the point standings, which is higher than his fellow single-race winners in the top-20 in points – Busch, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose and Logano. However, Busch sits just 11 points behind Newman for the second wild-card spot.

Either Busch or Logano can earn a wild-card spot by grabbing another victory in the next three races or by climbing into the top-10 in points.

Motocross: Millsaps Fourth Overall in Unadilla, N.Y.

Team Interstate/JGRMX rider Davi Millsaps continued his march back from injury with a solid performance at Unadilla Sports Valley in New Berlin, N.Y., Saturday. The historic track was on the circuit during the inaugural year of the AMA Motocross Championship in 1972 and has a roster of obstacles with some of the most colorful names on the tour. The Gravity Cavity, Sky Shot and Wall are synonymous with the historic track.

JGRMX rider Davi Millsaps

Davi Millsaps via MotoUSA.com and Yamaha

Heavy rains Friday caused the track to be especially treacherous. Wet loam lay over hard pack and rock, with deep ruts forming that crisscrossed the racing surface. Millsaps began the first moto inside the top-10 and advanced to fifth by just the third lap. With five laps to go, he had worked his way into third and a podium finish for the moto. Millsaps got off to a great start in the second moto and was running in second place when another rider clipped his front wheel, almost taking him down. He stayed up, but the loss of momentum relegated him to fifth place, which is where he finished the race. His three – five moto scores gave him fourth overall for the day.

NHRA Pro Stock: Edwards Maintains Ranking

Team Interstate’s Mike Edwards has never considered Brainerd, Minn., as one of his best tracks, and this weekend nothing could change that perception. After qualifying his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP in the third position, Edwards faced Rodger Brogdon in the first round. Edwards ran his quickest pass of the weekend, a 6.568-second run at 210.01 mph, to win the matchup.

Round two wasn’t as smooth. Edwards lined up against Ron Krisher and was out of the gate first, but Krisher was able to chase him down by 200 feet and hold on for the win. Krisher’s margin of victory was 0.0045 seconds — about 17 inches at approximately 210 mph.

NHRA Pro Stock Standings After 16 Races

Position

 Driver

Points

01

Allen Johnson

1,432

02

Jason Line

1,298

03

Greg Anderson

1,270

04

Mike Edwards

1,090

05

Erica Enders

1,065

06

Vincent Nobile

1,056

07

Ron Krisher

 634

08

Shane Gray

 623

09

Larry Morgan

 620

10

V Gaines

 604

Next week: NASCAR returns to the newly reconfigured Bristol Motor Speedway, where Busch has five career Sprint Cup victories. AMA Motocross and NHRA Pro Stock both have the weekend off.

 

By James Pecht (177 Posts)

James Pecht writes about franchising, battery technology, tips, racing and company culture for Interstate Batteries.


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