October 11, 2008
Speeding Penalty Slows Busch’s Hopes at Charlotte
Date: Oct. 11, 2008
M&M’s Team Rallies to Solid Fourth-Place Finish; 16th Top-Five of 2008
Event: Bank of America 500 (Round 31 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 11th/4th (Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
Winner: Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s/Susan G. Komen for the Cure Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), overcame a costly pit road speeding penalty to finish a solid fourth in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
It was Busch’s first Sprint Cup Series top-10 since he finished seventh at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Aug. 31.
“I made a mistake and sped on pit road there on the second-to-last stop and you can’t have that at the end of the race,” Busch said. “It was unfortunate there – it was my fault this time. We battled back to a great fourth-place finish, though. The car was real fast at the end and we made the most of our Susan G. Koman M&M’s car tonight.”
Busch, who led twice for 14 laps, was in fifth place when he was set to pit on lap 225 of the 334-lap race. When Busch exited turn four and headed toward pit lane, he slammed his brakes – so much so that it put a hole in his left-front tire – and tried to get below the posted 45 mph pit road speed limit. Unfortunately, NASCAR officials determined his speed exceeded 45 mph and assessed him a pass-through penalty, which meant Busch would be required to drive through pit lane at 45 mph on the next available lap.
The penalty sent Busch from the top-five to 16th, one lap down.
However, Busch and the M&M’s team never gave up, and in the ensuing laps, the 23-year-old Las Vegas native drove some of the fastest speeds around the 1.5-mile oval and got his lap back and climbed into the top-10.
After the last caution of the race on lap 297 for Juan Pablo Montoya’s accident, Busch pitted for the final time, took two tires and fuel and restarted 10th on lap 301. Throughout the final 33 circuits, Busch picked off cars one by one before eventually taking the checkered flag in fourth position.
“For what we went through there at the end of the race with speeding on pit road – from there on out it was just a free-for-all,” Busch said. “Going to the top side three-wide, trying to get by guys, getting loose a couple times. It was a hard-fought fourth. It was the best the car was there at the end of the race, the last couple runs. We were fortunate enough to bring this car home up front with a good fourth-place finish. I’m proud of all the efforts there with all these guys and we’ll go on into next week.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart – finished 11th and 16th, respectively. Stewart led twice for 42 laps and scored his 14th top-15 finish in 20 career starts at Lowe’s Motor Speedway while Hamlin scraped the wall late in the 334-lap race and ended any chance of a top-10 finish.
Jeff Burton won the Bank of America 500 to score his 21st career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his third at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne finished 0.946 of a second behind Burton in the runner-up spot, with Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray rounding out the top-five. Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and David Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the race.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart continues to lead the JGR trio in points, as he maintained his seventh-place position in the standings, where he is now 228 markers arrears series leader Johnson. Busch gained two positions and is now ninth in the standings, 326 points out of the lead. Hamlin remained 12th in points and is 380 markers behind Johnson.
With five 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 (5,878 points) +/- 0
2. Jeff Burton (5,809 points, -69) +2
3. Greg Biffle (5,792 points, -86) +/- 0
4. Jeff Burton (5,710 points, -168) -2
5. Clint Bowyer (5,693 points, -185) +/- 0
6. Kevin Harvick (5,671 points, -207) +/- 0
7. Tony Stewart (5,650 points, -228) +/- 0
8. Jeff Gordon (5,633 points, -245) +/- 0
9. Kyle Busch (5,552 points, -326) +2
10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (5,524 points, -354) +/- 0
11. Matt Kenseth (5,518 points, -360) -2
12. Denny Hamlin (5,498 points, -380) +/- 0
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Oct. 19 Tums QuickPak 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1:30 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.