July 26, 2009
Heartbreak in the Heartland Cut Tire and Contact with Wall End Promising Run for Snickers Team at IndyDate: July 26, 2009
Event: 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (Round 20 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 20th/38th (Running, completed 112 of 160 laps)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), cut a right-front tire on lap 58 and made contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall in turn three, which led to a disappointing 38th-place finish in Sunday’s 16th running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s unfortunate for the Snickers Bar Hunger Toyota Camry. We were running decent,” said Busch, who had scored three top-10 finishes in four previous Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. “We were running there about 14th and had an awesome pit stop and got up to seventh. We were biding our time running there and I got stuck behind the 71 (David Gilliland) and had to push the right-front a little bit. Right from that point I just started losing the right-front tire – just getting real tight. I had been loose the whole run, so I didn’t think I had been abusing it at all, but all of the sudden it just started vibrating and then in two laps it just blew out. I don’t know what exactly happened to cause it.”
While the talented 24-year old started 20th, he quickly moved up through the field to the 14th position by the first pit stop on lap 28. On that stop, the Snickers team rose to the occasion as they gained an impressive seven positions on pit road under green flag conditions. Following that impressive stop, Busch rode around in the seventh position while also fighting a slight tight handling condition.
But on lap 58 of the 160-lap race, Busch’s No. 18 machine shot out of the groove and into the wall in turn three from an apparent cut tire. The damage to the right side of the Snickers Toyota was substantial, and it forced Busch to the garage area for extensive repairs.
The Snickers team worked tirelessly to fix the No. 18 Toyota and eventually got Busch back onto the racetrack to at least win the battle of attrition. They succeeded, to a certain degree, by completing 112 of the 160 laps available and finishing 38th in the 43-car field.
Busch’s JGR teammates – rookie Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin – finished 12th and 34th, respectively.
With 20 of 36 races in the books, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings, but his 34th-place finish dropped him one spot to sixth. He has 2,518 points and is 536 markers behind series leader Tony Stewart. Busch dropped four spots to 14th-place. He has 2,347 points and is 82 markers arrears 12th-place Matt Kenseth. Logano gained one spot to climb to 19th with 2,083 points, 971 markers back of the lead.
Juan Pablo Montoya dominated the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard by leading three times for a race-high 116 laps, but a pit road speeding penalty late in the event cost him any chance of victory and he ended up a disappointing 11th.
Jimmie Johnson led only once, but the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion was at the point for the final 24 circuits and won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. It was Johnson’s 43rd career victory, his third of the season and his third at Indianapolis.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Mark Martin, finished .400 of a second behind, while Stewart, Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, David Reutimann, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were only three caution periods for 14 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 160-lap race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 2 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.