May 25, 2008
Up-and-down night ends with third-place finish for Kyle Busch
CONCORD, NC (May 25, 2008) - "Overcome" was the mantra for Kyle Busch and the No. 18 M&M'S® Team at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Sunday night. He and his team battled through alternator issues, front-end damage and a tire losing air pressure to walk away with a third-place finish in the Memorial Day Weekend classic.
After starting from the pole, Busch led the field during the first 33 circuits around the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS). It was on lap 34 that Busch noticed the first issue of the night for his No. 18 M&M'S Toyota, reporting that the battery on the car was losing voltage. He was having issues with both batteries on the car which led to a diagnosis that the problem existed in the alternator. Busch employed a variety of methods to help conserve battery power all night long, from switching between batteries to cutting off the fans on his Camry during cautions.
The team's problems were amplified on lap 143 when Busch reported that the right-front tire on the car was losing air pressure. Finally on lap 150, Busch made an unscheduled stop for right-side tires only during green-flag conditions. Although he lost a lap, he didn't stay down long, racing back onto the lead lap just 10 laps later.
While the team quickly bounced back from the tire issue, the battery on the M&M'S Toyota continued to fade. Confronted with the possibility of having to change the battery during green-flag conditions, Busch caught a break on lap 296 when the caution waved and gave the team the chance to change the batteries on the car without losing a lap.
Busch returned to the race in 22nd place for the restart on lap 305 only to have to immediately take evasive action to avoid an accordion-style traffic jam on the restart. The No. 18 M&M'S Toyota sustained damage that was mostly cosmetic but did require a trip down pit road for a sheet metal touch-up job. Busch returned to competition in 16th place with 90 laps remaining and began making his way back to the front.
Making steady progress, Busch was back in the top 10 by lap 326 and had reclaimed the lead by lap 346. As the laps wound down however, Busch discovered the handling on his car didn't hold up during a long, green-flag run, which is how the race continued after the 11th and final caution of the night on lap 334.
At the end of the night, the team was able to overcome a number of unfortunate incidents to walk away with its eighth top-five finish of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
"I thought I had a tire going down, that's why we got a lap down," Busch said. "Guys did an awesome job on pit road changing out the batteries. Whatever the problem was, I'm sure it was an alternator problem or something like that. Tony had that same problem at Richmond, so hopefully we can figure it out and get it fixed. The M&M'S Toyota guys did a great job tonight. Just sorry we didn't come home a little better. Wish we had shorter run there at the end. That thing was fast on the short run."
While Busch didn't score the win, he did extend his lead in the Sprint Cup Series driver point standings. Busch now owns a 94-point advantage ahead of Jeff Burton who remains second in the standings.
Busch's teammate Tony Stewart started the Coca-Cola 600 deep in the field in 31st place. He remained relatively quiet during the 600-mile event, making his move late in the race to charge to the lead. Stewart was leading as the laps wound down, but a right-front tire problem forced him to pit with less than five laps to go, finishing the night in 18th place. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team battled their own share of handling issues and incidents during the course of the event. Hamlin finished the night in 24th place.
With his second victory in two weeks, Kasey Kahne became only the sixth driver in NASCAR history to sweep both the All-Star and the Coca-Cola 600 races in Charlotte. Greg Biffle finished second, followed by Busch in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in fifth.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series turns its attention to the high-banked, one-mile oval of Dover International Speedway next weekend. The Best Buy 400 is scheduled for a 2 p.m. EDT start. FOX concludes its coverage of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with its broadcast of next weekend's race. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will provide live radio coverage.