September 28, 2008
Busch Endures Tough Day at Kansas
Date: Sept. 28, 2008
M&M’s Team Finishes 28th after Experiencing Fuel Pressure and Handling Issues
Event: Camping World RV 400 (Round 29 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 27th/28th (Running, completed 266 of 267 laps)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished a disappointing 28th in Sunday’s Camping World RV 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Busch, who has won a series-high eight Sprint Cup races in 2008, suffered handling issues throughout the majority of the 267-lap race. But it was a fuel pressure problem early in the event that left the No. 18 team shaking their collective heads yet again, as mechanical issues plagued the team for the third straight race.
After entering the Chase for the Sprint Cup first in the standings, the team has now finished 34th, 43rd and 28th, respectively, in the first three races of this year’s Chase.
“The car was sputtering and not running clean from almost the very start,” said Busch. “It was just really inconsistent. Sometimes it was loose, sometimes it was tight. I couldn’t get it to turn in the center of the corner and it just turned into a long day.”
After starting 27th, Busch quickly moved up six spots during the race’s first 15 laps. But on lap 22, Busch radioed to crew chief Steve Addington that he thought his engine was going sour for the second consecutive week. While the M&M’s team tried to figure out the exact cause of the problem, Busch dropped from the lead lap less than 20 laps later. But on lap 50, three laps before their first scheduled pit stop, Busch radioed to the team that the engine issue had gone away.
From there, Busch bided his time and hoped for a caution in order to get his lap back. That break came when Kyle Petty spun on lap 93 to bring out the caution, thus awarding Busch his lap back and placing the M&M’s Toyota as the first car one lap down.
While the caution was just the break the No. 18 team needed, the mysterious fuel pressure issue, along with a race car that would not turn in the center of the corner, kept Busch from gaining any ground as he again went a lap down on lap 163. For the remainder of the race, Addington and the No. 18 team threw a number of changes at the M&M’s Toyota, including track bar and air pressure adjustments, along with a shock adjustment, but nothing seemed to cure the ill-handling race car.
“We were 25 laps into it and Kyle thought the motor was doing what it did last week and coming apart,” said Addington. “That wasn’t the case. It was a fuel pressure issue. We came in, checked all the lines and everything and couldn’t find anything. We’ll go back and dissect the whole car to see what the problem was and see if we can find anything. This is the first time, but it seems like there’s been a first time for everything the last three weeks.”
Busch, who held the point lead for 17 consecutive races before dropping to eighth after the first Chase race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, remains 12th in points and is now 311 points behind new series leader Jimmie Johnson.
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart finished 11th and 40th, respectively. Hamlin battled back from early race troubles while Stewart’s finish was a result of a spin through the infield grass after contact with Brian Vickers on lap 131.
Johnson won the Camping World RV 400 to score his 38th career Sprint Cup victory, his fifth of the season and his first at Kansas. The two-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion, who held off a last-lap pass attempt for the lead from Carl Edwards, is now 16th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list. Edwards finished just .280 of a second behind Johnson, while Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, David Ragan, A.J. Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 25 laps, with only Martin Truex Jr., failing to finish.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Hamlin now leads the JGR trio in points, as he picked up one spot and is 10th in points, 243 markers arrears series leader Johnson. Stewart fell four positions and is 11th in the standings, 255 points behind Johnson, while Busch remained 12th and is 311 markers behind Johnson.
With seven races remaining before a champion is crowned following the season-finale Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the top-12 drivers competing for the title are as follows:1. Jimmie Johnson (5,575 points) +1
2. Carl Edwards (5,565 points, -10) -1
3. Greg Biffle (5,545 points, -30) +/- 0
4. Jeff Burton (5,454 points, -121) +/- 0
5. Kevin Harvick (5,439 points, -136) +/- 0
6. Jeff Gordon (5,432 points, -143) +2
7. Clint Bowyer (5,411 points, -164) -1
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5,385 points, -190) +1
9. Matt Kenseth (5,383 points, -192) +1
10. Denny Hamlin (5,332 points, -243) +1
11. Tony Stewart (5,320 points, -255) -4
12. Kyle Busch (5,264 points, -311) +/- 0
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fourth race of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup – is the Oct. 5 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.