November 9, 2008
Busch Battles to Eighth-Place Finish at Phoenix Pedigree Team Notches 21st Top-10 of SeasonDate: Nov. 9, 2008
Event: Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500k (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 14th/8th (Running, completed 313 of 313 laps in a green-white-checkered finish)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished eighth in Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Despite battling a race car that was tight in the center of the corner but loose off the corner all race long, the talented 23-year old managed to bring home his 21st top-10 finish of the season.
“We battled tight-loose all day and never really got the Pedigree Toyota right,” said Busch, who earned his sixth top-10 finish in eight career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix. “We’ve still got some work to do on our flat-track program. We’ll just go to Homestead and hope to finish the season off on a positive note with a good finish.”
After starting 14th, Busch quickly moved up into the eighth position after just 28 circuits around the 1-mile oval. Throughout the next 183 laps and two pit stops, crew chief Steve Addington tried track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments on Busch’s Toyota, hoping to remedy an issue with grip in the center and exit of the corners. While an adjustment on the lap 211 pit stop made the car handle better than it had all day, it just wasn’t enough for the Las Vegas native to pick off enough positions to make it into the top-five.
The 313-lap event, which was extended one lap due to a green-white-checkered finish, was interrupted by two red flags – which lasted a combined 42 minutes.
The first red flag was for a rare rain shower that came through the Avondale, Ariz., area just past the 35-lap mark. The second was for a nine-car accident in turn three on lap 275.
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart – finished fifth and 22nd, respectively. Hamlin brought home his 12th top-five finish of the season while Stewart was caught up in two late-race accidents.
Jimmie Johnson won the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500k to score his 40th career Sprint Cup victory, his seventh of the season and his third consecutive at Phoenix. Finishing .295 of a second behind Johnson was Kurt Busch, while Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards and Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and David Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 55 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the race.
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 three spots and is ninth in points, 471 markers arrears series leader Johnson. Busch and Stewart are now 11th and 12th, respectively. Busch is 481 points out of first and Stewart is 502 points down to Johnson.
With only one race remaining before a champion is crowned, the top-12 drivers who competed for this year’s title are as follows:1. Jimmie Johnson (6,561 points) +/-0
2. Carl Edwards (6,420 points, -141) +/-0
3. Greg Biffle (6,358 points, -203) +/-0
4. Jeff Burton (6,292 points, -269) +/-0
5. Kevin Harvick (6,233 points, -328) +2
6. Clint Bowyer (6,226 points, -335) +/-0
7. Jeff Gordon (6,151 points, -410) -2
8. Matt Kenseth (6,091 points, -470) +/-0
9. Denny Hamlin (6,090 points, -471) +3
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6,087 points, -474) +1
11. Kyle Busch (6,80 points, -481) -1
12. Tony Stewart (6,059 points, -502) -3
The final event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 16 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race begins at 3:45 p.m. EST with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 3 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.