March 29, 2009
Busch Finishes Disappointing 24th at Martinsville
Date: March 29, 2009
Numerous Issues Produce Long Day for M&M'S® Team
Event: Goody’s Fast Relief 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (VA) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 4th/24th (Running, completed 498 of 500 laps)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
For all the good fortune that has been bestowed upon Kyle Busch thus far in 2009, the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (VA) Speedway was the polar opposite.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M'S® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) suffered numerous issues in the 500-lap race around the .526-mile oval including a spin, a pit-road speeding penalty and a blown right-front tire. The triple dose of misfortune relegated Busch to a disappointing 24th-place finish, two laps behind the leaders.
“We just couldn’t get anything to go right with our M&M'S® Toyota today”,said Busch. “All we could do after having the tire go down was to gain as many spots as possible and learn what we could for when we come back here in October during the Chase.”
After starting fourth when the field was set by owner points due to Friday’s qualifying session being rained out, Busch held his ground within the top 10 while also fighting a racecar that was too tight exiting the corner. After a competition caution was called by NASCAR officials on lap 40, Busch’s handling issues worsened to the point that he lost control of his car while driving below the No. 82 car of Scott Speed upon entering turn three on lap 69. The spin turned both cars around, causing Speed to make heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall between turns three and four, while Busch’s machine just slightly grazed the barrier.
Busch restarted 34th on lap 75, and when the caution waved again 19 laps later, crew chief Steve Addington elected to have Busch’s M&M'S® Toyota stay out while the leaders pitted. The moved gained the No. 18 team valuable track position, as Busch restarted in the 14th spot on lap 96.
However, just as soon as the No. 18 team received a dose of good luck, it was quickly taken away during the lap 140 caution, as Busch was penalized for entering the pits too fast, and as a result, was sent to the tail end of the longest line for the restart.
After restarting 30th on lap 143, a blown right-front tire on lap 204 sent Busch to pit road under green flag conditions, putting him another lap down to the leaders and sealing his fate once and for all on a dismal Sunday at Martinsville.
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano – finished second and 32nd, respectively.
With round six of 36 complete, Busch dropped two spots to sixth in the championship point standings, 159 markers behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Hamlin gained three spots and now sits fifth, 148 markers arrears Gordon. Logano remains in 34th, 522 points out of first.
Jimmie Johnson beat Hamlin by .774 of a second to win the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 and score the 41st victory of his Sprint Cup career, his first of the season and his sixth at Martinsville. Tony Stewart was third, while Gordon and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five. Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray comprised the remainder of the top 10.
There were 12 caution periods for 66 laps, with just four drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the April 5th Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.