April 5, 2009
Busch Unable to Shake Bad Luck Streak at Texas
Date: April 5, 2009
No. 18 Driver Rallies, but Forced to Settle for 18th-Place Finish
Event: Samsung 500 (Round 7 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 8th/18th (Running, completed 333 of 334 laps)
Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
If Kyle Busch didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all, at least when it comes to competing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), had high hopes in Sunday’s Samsung 500, but pit misfortunes early in the 334-lap race dug a hole too deep for Busch to get out of, forcing the talented 23-year-old to settle for an 18th-place finish.
“We just didn’t have anything go right for us in the first part of the race,” said Busch, “The car wasn’t bad, but when you end up in that deep of a hole, it’s hard to dig out of it. We got one lap back and were in the position for the ‘Lucky Dog’ there toward the end, but just didn’t have things fall our way today.”
After starting a solid eighth, Busch quickly moved into the top-five before a round of green flag pit stops began on lap 51. But, he lost five spots on pit road and then fell to 14th by the time the race’s first yellow flag caution period came about on lap 97. But as Busch brought his No. 18 Toyota to pit road for service on the next lap, a lug nut hung up in the socket during the tire exchange and forced a much longer than expected stay on pit road. The delay dropped Busch to 21st when the race restarted on lap 102.
Things soon went from bad to worse for the No. 18 team. As Busch picked his way up through the field, he made incidental contact with the No. 34 machine of John Andretti, which cut the left rear tire on the No. 18 Toyota and forced Busch to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop on lap 108. While only one lap down after that incident, the final bit of bad luck came on the next pit stop on lap 153 when a lug nut fell off a right-side tire, which caused another longer than usual stop. To add insult to injury, Busch was penalized for going too fast while entering the pits, and was assessed a drive-through penalty by NASCAR that was served on the following lap.
Suddenly, the Las Vegas native found himself two laps behind the leader in 36th-place on lap 161. But from there, Busch was able to make a bit of a comeback, even gaining a lap back with 31 laps remaining. Over the final 26-lap green flag run, Busch was able to gain enough spots to be the first car one lap down, but never got the caution he needed to attain the “Lucky Dog” pass from NASCAR given to the first car one lap down.
Busch’s JGR teammates – Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano – finished 12th and 30th, respectively.
With seven of 36 races now complete, Busch dropped one spot to seventh in the championship standings, 240 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Hamlin fell one position to sixth, 216 points arrears Gordon. Logano lost a position as well, falling to 35th, where he sits 48 markers ahead of 36th-place David Gilliland.
Gordon padded his point lead by winning the Samsung 500. It was his 82nd career victory, his first of the season, his first at Texas and his first since winning at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, NC in October 2007, ending a career-long, 47-race winless streak. Gordon has now won at every current Sprint Cup venue except Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of the season finale. The four-time series champion now sits one victory behind Cale Yarborough for fifth on the all-time Sprint Cup win list, and two behind Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison, who are tied for third.
Finishing .378 of a second behind Gordon was his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, while Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five. Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 30 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a weekend off in honor of Easter before heading to Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ for the April 18th Subway Fresh Fit 500k. The race begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 8 p.m.