May 17, 2009
Late-Race Accident Derails Busch’s Chance at All-Star Victory
Date: May 16, 2009
M&M'S®Driver Finishes Seventh After Leading 33 Laps
Event: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (non-points event)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, NC(1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 13th /7th (Running, completed 100 of 100 laps)
Winner: Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch finished seventh in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, NC. The driver of the No. 18 M&M'S® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing led three times for 33 laps, but an accident on lap 93 while battling for the lead damaged his car and ended any chance of his first All-Star victory.
The All-Star Race is divided into segments of 50, 20, 20 and 10 laps, with a competition caution thrown after the completion of the first three segments and a 10-minute break before the final 10-lap shootout.
Busch led laps 51-80 of the 100 lap-event before giving up the lead on lap 81 to four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon. Gordon led laps 81-90, while Busch faded to fourth prior to the 10-minute break.
During the break, crew chief Steve Addington oversaw the M&M'S® crew as they changed four tires, added fuel and made tire pressure, shock and tape adjustments to help overcome a tight condition on Busch’s Toyota. The adjustments helped Busch’s handling and he engaged in a fierce three-way battle for the lead with Gordon and Ryan Newman throughout laps 90-93.
As the cars exited turn four on lap 93, Busch was sandwiched between the cars of Gordon and Newman, and all three made contact with each other. Gordon was on the bottom and his car made contact with Busch’s Toyota and both cars moved side-by-side into Newman, who made contact with the SAFER Barrier along the outside retaining wall.
Gordon spun and made contact with the wall, ending his night, while the damage to Newman’s car was also too severe for him to continue.
Busch was able to keep driving and was in the lead when the race restarted on lap 94, but the damage to his M&M'S® Toyota was too extensive to keep the lead and he fell all the way back to seventh when the checkered flag flew after the 100th circuit.
“I’m proud of everybody on the M&M'S® Toyota Camry team. They worked hard all weekend,” Addington said. “We had a good car all the way up to the end.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano – finished fourth and eighth in the Sprint All-Star race, respectively. Hamlin’s fourth-place effort marked his best finish in three Sprint All-Star Race starts. Logano, who joined the All-Star field via a fan vote, also finished fifth in the 40-lap undercard Sprint Showdown.
Tony Stewart defeated Matt Kenseth by .971 of a second to win the All-Star Race and the accompanying $1 million payout. Kurt Busch, Hamlin and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Logano, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr., comprised the remainder of the top 10.
Stewart became the first driver/owner to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup-sanctioned event since Ricky Rudd won a point-paying race in October 1998 at Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
It was also the first All-Star race win for Stewart, who had four top-10 finishes in 10 previous starts in the event. Stewart became the second driver-owner to win the All-Star Race, joining Geoff Bodine, who accomplished the feat in 1994.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing on May 24th with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at 5:45 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning at 5 p.m.