August 16, 2009
Busch Fades Late at Michigan, Finishes Disappointing 23rd
Date: Aug. 16, 2009
Talented 24-Year Old Now 15th in Standings, 70 Points Out of 12th
Event: CARFAX 400 (Round 23 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 39th/23rd (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Winner: Brian Vickers of Red Bull Racing (Toyota)
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished a disappointing 23rd in Sunday’s CARFAX 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Busch, who started 39th, fought a loose handling condition for much of the first half of the 200-lap race, but he and crew chief Steve Addington eventually found a balance for the car that worked thanks to a series of wedge, tire pressure and track-bar adjustments.
By lap 149, Busch had worked his way into the top-five as teams began thinking about fuel strategy for the remaining 51 laps.
Busch pitted on lap 149 for four tires and fuel and then 10 laps later, under caution, Busch pitted for two tires and enough fuel to ensure he could finish the 400-mile race.
Other teams opted to gamble on fuel, so when the race restarted, Busch was in 15th-place, but with other drivers potentially running out of fuel, it appeared a top-10 finish was possible for the No. 18 team.
However, as the laps wound down, the handling on Busch’s car went away, and he faded outside the top-20.
“It wasn’t a good day,” Addington said. “We battled track position early. I don’t know what happened at the end. We got our track position and then lost a good bunch of that on the restart. We put two tires on it and topped it off with all (the fuel) we could and thought we were in good shape to go to the end. The car just got tight on us. I can’t explain it. I’m trying to find out right now.”
Busch’s JGR teammates, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, finished seventh and 10th, respectively.
Brian Vickers beat Jeff Gordon by 1.409 seconds to win the CARFAX 400 and score the second victory of his Sprint Cup career, his first of the season and his first at Michigan. It was also the first victory for Red Bull Racing, which has competed in Sprint Cup full-time since 2007.
Finishing third was Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Carl Edwards and Sam Hornish Jr., rounded out the top-five. Casey Mears, Logano, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann and Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 36 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 400-mile race.
With 23 of 36 races in the books, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the point standings, and his 10th-place finish maintained his fifth position in the championship. He has 2,986 points and is 514 markers behind series leader Tony Stewart. Busch fell two spots to 15th. He has 2,721 points and is 70 markers arrears 12th-place Mark Martin. Logano stayed in the 19th spot with 2,426 points, 1,074 markers back of the lead.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 22 Sharpie 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m