March 29, 2010
Strong Run Goes Sour for Busch at Martinsville
Date: March 29, 2010
Snickers Team Disappointed after Top-Five Run Disappears with Four Laps to Go
Event: Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
Start/Finish: 10th/22nd (Running, completed 507 of 508 laps in a green-white-checkered finish)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kyle Busch appeared to have a second-place finish in hand late in Monday’s rain-postponed Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, but a caution with seven laps remaining and an unfortunate turn of events on the second-to-last restart of the race relegated him to a disappointing 22nd-place finish.
“That was the best car I’ve ever had at Martinsville,” said Busch, who has three fourth-place finishes to his credit at the .526-mile oval. “Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and all the guys did a great job and it just stinks on what happened at the end. I got stuck on the outside on the restart and it forced me to go three-wide too many times and I ended up getting wrecked. Just so disappointing for everyone with Snickers because we had such a good car and we just don’t have anything to show for our effort.”
Due to qualifying being rained out on Friday afternoon, the driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), started 10th via his standing in car owner points, but quickly dropped back through the field as soon as the green flag fell. Before he knew it, Busch had dropped all the way to 32nd by the time the first caution of the day came out on lap 42 as he fought a racecar that had no forward bite.
On the race’s first two pit stops, crew chief Dave Rogers dialed up a combination of track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments that brought the Snickers Toyota to life. While Busch restarted way back in the 30th spot on lap 70, the Las Vegas native quickly moved his way through the field and was 20th on lap 100, 15th by lap 113 and into the top-10 by lap 125.
Rogers made small adjustments throughout the race, allowing Busch to methodically work his way up the leaderboard. After another strong pit stop by the Snickers crew, Busch impressively fought his way up to the third position by lap 366. He held his ground within the top-five as the laps wound down and looked to be in position to score at least a top-three finish.
With 32 laps remaining in the race, which was extended eight laps past its originally scheduled 500-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish, Busch overtook Jeff Burton for the second position and only JGR teammate Denny Hamlin stood between him and his first victory of the season. When it became clear that Busch could not catch Hamlin, Busch drove patiently in hopes of bringing home a solid second-place finish. Unfortunately for Busch, his day took a quick turn for the worse as Burton caught the wall and brought out a caution with just six laps remaining in the scheduled distance.
During the caution period, Rogers and Busch had a decision to make – pit for tires or stay out for track position. The No. 18 team, along with Hamlin, decided to bring their cars to pit road for right-side tires only. Several other teams stayed out, which relegated Busch to restart eighth in the outside lane on lap 497. As Busch tried to dart his way back toward the front, even going three-wide several times, he ended up getting shuffled back. On lap 499, the car of Paul Menard made contact with Busch’s Toyota, sending the Snickers machine backward into the SAFER barrier in turn three. The hard contact brought out the caution and allowed the team enough time to repair Busch’s the No. 18 ride well enough for him to limp to the finish.
Hamlin went on to win the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. It was his ninth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Martinsville. Busch’s other JGR teammate, Joey Logano, finished .670 of a second behind Hamlin to give JGR a 1-2 finish. Jeff Gordon finished third, while Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 13 caution periods for 79 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the race.
With six of 36 races in the books, Logano leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He gained four spots to climb to 13th with 728 points and is 170 markers back of new series leader Johnson. Hamlin also picked up four spots, rising to 15th in points. He has 710 points and is 188 markers arrears Johnson. Busch lost six positions to fall to 16th. He has 703 points and is 195 markers back of first.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a weekend off in honor of Easter before heading to Phoenix International Raceway for the April 10 Subway Fresh Fit 600k. The race begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.