October 5, 2008
Busch Survives Crash-Filled Talladega
Date: Oct. 5, 2008
Pedigree Team Finishes 15th Despite Damage from Late-Race Accident
Event: AMP Energy 500 (Round 30 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.)
Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 37th/15th (Running, completed 190 of 190 laps in a green-white-checkered finish)
Winner: Tony Stewart of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Despite notching his best finish of the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kyle Busch couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with 15th place in Sunday’s crash-filled AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) led four times for 20 laps and looked to be in position for his second straight Sprint Cup win at the 2.66-mile oval. But victory lane just wasn’t to be, as Busch suffered damage to the right-front corner of his Pedigree machine after being collected in a 12-car accident on lap 175.
“We were just riding around, waiting for the end, and all heck broke loose in front of me,” said Busch of the lap-175 accident. “I got to the bottom and almost made it through, but the 22 (Dave Blaney) got me in the right-front. My guys did a great job getting it fixed so we could finish. Congrats to (race-winner) Tony (Stewart), but it’s a bummer for Pedigree and all these guys.”
While he started 37th, Busch bided his time and smartly carved his way toward the front of the field. After taking the lead briefly on lap 51, the talented 23-year old dodged the second big accident of the day, this time an eight-car pileup on lap 69 that brought out the first of two red flags. Busch regained the lead from laps 83-89, again on lap 99, and once more from laps 143-153, and also stayed in the lead draft between stints at the front of the field.
But after pitting on lap 167, the Las Vegas native found himself in the middle of the aforementioned 12-car melee triggered when Carl Edwards got into teammate Greg Biffle while fighting for position at the front of the pack. After a 12-minute red flag period, the Pedigree team repaired the right-front wheel well in an effort to make Busch as competitive as possible for the final laps of the race.
Busch’s JGR teammate Stewart won the AMP Energy 500. It was Stewart’s 33rd career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Talladega, where he’s finished second on six previous occasions.
Denny Hamlin, Busch’s other JGR teammate, finished 39th at Talladega. On lap 100, while leading the race, Hamlin blew a right-front tire, which shot him up the race track and into the outside SAFER barrier. Hamlin was taken to the track’s infield care center and then transported by ambulance to a Birmingham-area hospital for further observation. He will remain at the hospital overnight and will be reevaluated in the morning.
Finishing .052 of second behind Stewart in the runner-up slot was Paul Menard, who collected his career-best Sprint Cup result. David Ragan finished third, while Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Bobby Labonte, Scott Riggs, Robby Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Elliott Sadler comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 41 laps – including two red-flag stoppages for a total of 29 minutes, 12 seconds to clean up multi-car accidents – with 16 drivers failing to finish the 190-lap race.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart now leads the JGR trio in points, as his victory moved him up four spots to seventh, 203 markers arrears series leader Johnson. Busch gained one position and is 11th in the standings, 331 points out of the lead. Hamlin dropped two spots to 12th and is 335 points behind Johnson.
With six 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 (5,718 points) +/- 0
2. Carl Edwards (5,646 points, -72) +/- 0
3. Greg Biffle (5,641 points, -77) +/- 0
4. Jeff Burton (5,619 points, -99) +/- 0
5. Clint Bowyer (5,566 points, -152) +2
6. Kevin Harvick (5,547 points, -171) – 1
7. Tony Stewart (5,515 points, -203) +4
8. Jeff Gordon (5,486 points, -232) -2
9. Matt Kenseth (5,473 points, -245) +/- 0
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5,469 points, -249) -2
11. Kyle Busch (5,387 points, -331) +1
12. Denny Hamlin (5,383 points, -335) -2
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the halfway mark of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup – is the Oct. 11 Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The race begins at 7:25 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.