June 21, 2009
Busch Salvages Potentially Disastrous Day at Sonoma
Date: June 21, 2009
M&M’S Team Rallies to Finish 22nd with Heavily-Damaged Race Car
Event: Toyota/Save Mart 350k (Round 16 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. (1.99-mile 10-turn road course) Start/Finish: 2nd /22nd (Running, completed 113 of 113 laps)
Winner: Kasey Kahne of Richard Petty Motorsports (Dodge) in a green/white/checkered finish
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), rallied back from several on-track incidents to finish 22nd in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
This weekend, Busch’s No. 18 M&M’S car featured a special paint scheme to celebrate the upcoming theatrical release of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures in association with Hasbro. In the highly-anticipated sequel, debuting June 24, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) again joins with the AUTOBOTS® against their sworn enemies, the DECEPTICONS®.
After a solid qualifying effort on Friday enabled him to start the race on the outside of row one, Busch took the lead from pole-sitter Brian Vickers on lap 17 and held the point until lap 27, when crew chief Steve Addington called him to pit road for the first scheduled pit stop of the day. Throughout the next 30 laps, Busch patiently worked his way back up through the field and back into the top-10, as he looked for his second consecutive victory on the 1.99-mile, 10-turn road course.
However, on lap 60 Busch entered one of Infineon’s twisty turns too hard and made contact with the rear end of Sam Hornish Jr.’s car, causing significant damage to the front end and right side of the M&M’S Toyota. The contact forced Busch to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop to fix the damage and put him one lap down.
Fortunately for Busch, a timely caution on lap 84 enabled him to gain his lap back as the first car one lap down receives a free pass back on the lead lap, per NASCAR rules.
After gaining his lap back, Busch restarted 36th on lap 87 and quickly worked his way up to 25th by lap 98, despite pitting on several different occasions under caution as the M&M’S team kept patching the damage the best they could. Unfortunately, bad luck struck again on lap 99, as the car of Jeff Burton spun Busch, sending him spinning off-course once again and causing even more damage.
The setback dropped the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota back to 36th-place as the field lined up for a two-lap green/white/checkered finish on lap 111. Busch picked up an amazing 12 spots on the penultimate lap and then two more on the final lap to rally to a hard-fought 22nd-place finish.
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and rookie Joey Logano – finished fifth and 19th, respectively.
With 16 of 36 races in the books, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings, as his fifth-place finish helped him gain three spots to seventh in points. He has 2,009 points and is 355 markers behind series leader Tony Stewart. Busch maintained his ninth position in the standings with 1,962 points, 402 markers behind Stewart. Logano gained one spot and now sits 24th. He has 1,551 points and is 813 points back of the lead.
Kasey Kahne finished .748 of a second ahead of Stewart to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350k. It was Kahne’s 10th career victory, his first of 2009 and his first-ever road course win.
Finishing third was Marcos Ambrose, while Jimmie Johnson and Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Elliott Sadler comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 20 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 113-lap race, which was extended three laps due to a green/white/checkered finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the June 28 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.
TRANSFORMERS and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2009 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.