June 15, 2008
Kyle Busch finishes 13th at Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI (June 15, 2008) - Kyle Busch started on the pole for Sunday's LifeLock 400 race at Michigan International Speedway. He and his No. 18 M&M'S® Team proved to be strong, as he ran in the top five nearly all race long. However, a late pit stop to top off for fuel mired Busch back in the pack inside the last 15 laps. One last stop for fresh tires and an adjustment allowed Busch to make a charge at the end to finish in 13th. With the result, he still remains in the Sprint Cup Series points lead.
"I'm not really sure what happened there at the end," Busch said. "Some guys were able to make it a lot further than we were on fuel. I don't know if we didn't get the car full on that next-to-last stop or what. We weren't the fastest car all day, but we were able to stay up front. Thought we were gonna get out of here with a good, solid top-five. But we'll move on and try to get it back next week."
Starting from the pole, Busch was able to lead the first couple of laps before relinquishing the top spot and settling into second place. The car's handling was good early but began to get a little bit of a tight condition in the center and exit of the corner. The racing at Michigan on Sunday saw a very long green-flag run after a quick caution on lap four in the beginning of the race. Teams had to make two green-flag pit stops before seeing the second caution on lap 93.
During the first two pit stops, small wedge adjustments were made to loosen up the car a bit. Also during the long run, the field got spread out and Busch looked for ways to stay focused. He could be heard over the team's radio playing crew chief, as he reminded himself to "just hit his marks" and to "race the race track."
At lap 100, the race's halfway point, Busch was firmly in third place. From there, the car's handling became progressively worse over the next 50 laps. Busch radioed in to crew chief Steve Addington, "the car's too tight for me to run the bottom. I'm losing grip all over. I just don't feel like I'm in the race track."
The team made a pit stop on lap 146, with changes to both the wedge and track bar. Busch continued to turn laps at the two-mile speedway inside the top five. The team calculated that they could not make it to the end on fuel and would have to stop one last time before the end. They chose to pit under green on lap 184 to take just right side tires and enough fuel to make it to the end.
A wreck with three laps to go brought out the caution flag and one final opportunity for Busch to get himself back towards the front. He came in for four tires and a small adjustment. Busch restarted in 19th for a green-white-checkered finish. In just one lap he made his way up to 13th and would most certainly earn a top 10 result in the final lap. Unfortunately another accident brought out the caution on the last lap, thus freezing the field and freezing Busch in his final 13th-place position.
Tony Stewart was the highest-finishing Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He drove his No. 20 Toyota to a fifth-place finish, his fifth top-five of the season. Denny Hamlin had an up-and-down day in his No. 11 Toyota, but ultimately finished one spot behind Kyle Busch in 14th.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. snapped a 76-race winless drought by taking the checkered flag in Sunday's LifeLock 400. It was his 18th career Sprint Cup victory. Last week's winner, Kasey Kahne, continued his recent hot streak and finished in the runner-up position. Matt Kenseth finished third, while two Toyota drivers, Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart, finished fourth and fifth.
Next week Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&M'S Team will travel to the west coast for the season's first of two road races. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 will take place at the Infineon Raceway in the heart of California's wine country. TNT's live television broadcast will begin at 3:30pm EDT, with the green flag scheduled to wave at 5:00pm. The Performance Racing Network (PRN) will provide live radio coverage.