September 21, 2008
Engine Woes Produce Tough Day for Busch at Dover
It’s not over, but it just got a lot tougher.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), suffered a fatal part failure in his engine and finished a disappointing 43rd in Sunday’s Camping World RV 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
It was another tough blow for Busch, who entered the Chase for the Sprint Cup first in the standings, but has now finished outside the top-30 in each of the last two races. Last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Busch finished 34th after having early race problems with a sway bar.
The 23-year-old Las Vegas native, who held the point lead for 17 consecutive races before dropping to eighth after New Hampshire, fell to 12th after his Dover effort and is 210 points behind series leader Carl Edwards.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Busch said. “Something broke inside the engine. I’m not sure what it is.”
Crew chief Steve Addington and the Interstate Batteries crew looked over the No. 18 Toyota for several minutes before determining the problem could not be fixed.
“Right now, it could be a lifter or a valve spring,” Addington said. “We don’t know. It ran long enough and just pushed the thrust out of the camshaft and it’s leaking oil so we’re done. Mark Cronquist (head engine builder at JGR) and his guys have been bullet-proof all year long. If anybody says anything about our engine department, tell them to come and see me.”
The race marked the sixth and final race in 2008 that Interstate Batteries – founding sponsor of JGR – served as the primary sponsor on the No. 18 car.
“We wanted to go out and win a race for Norm Miller (chairman of Interstate Batteries) and finish Interstate Batteries’ sponsorship for this year right,” Addington said. “Everybody is a little bit frustrated, but now we’re just going to go and win races and not worry about it. We’ve got to do it as a team – just step up, go out and we can take chances now and win races and show them that it was just bad parts that got us.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin – endured disparate days. Stewart finished a solid 11th, while Hamlin came home 38th after heading to the garage area just past the halfway mark of the race to replace his car’s driveshaft and rear-end gear.
Greg Biffle won the Camping World RV 400 to score his 14th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Dover. Matt Kenseth and Edwards finished second and third to give Roush Fenway Racing a sweep of the top three spots, while Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Michael Waltrip comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 45 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. While Busch is 12th, Hamlin fell five positions to 11th and is 193 points behind Edwards. Stewart maintained his seventh position and is 113 points arrears Edwards.
With eight 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. Carl Edwards (5,390 points) +/- 0
2. Jimmie Johnson (5,380 points, -10) +/- 0
3. Greg Biffle (5,380 points, -10) +/- 0
4. Jeff Burton (5,308 points, -82) +1
5. Kevin Harvick (5,289 points, -101) +5
6. Clint Bowyer (5,284 points, -106) +3
7. Tony Stewart (5,277 points, -113) +/- 0
8. Jeff Gordon (5,272 points, -118) +3
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5,261 points, -129) -5
10. Matt Kenseth (5,223 points, -167) +2
11. Denny Hamlin (5,197 points, -193) -5
12. Kyle Busch (5,180 points, -210) -4
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the third race of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup – is the Sept. 28 Camping World RV 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.