August 10, 2009
Busch Finishes Solid Fourth at Watkins Glen
Date: Aug. 10, 2009
M&M’S Team Now Just 58 Points Out of Chase for Championship
Event: Heluva Good! at The Glen (Round 22 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.)
International (11-turn, 2.45-mile road course)
Start/Finish: 8th/4th (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps)
Winner: Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
A win would have been nice, but in the bigger picture, Kyle Busch’s fourth-place finish in Monday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International was just what the M&M’s team needed.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), entered the Heluva Good! at The Glen race 101 points outside of the top-12 in the championship point standings. His fourth-place result at the 11-turn, 2.45-mile road course trimmed that margin nearly in half, as Busch is now just 58 points behind 12th-place Matt Kenseth with four races remaining until the top-12 drivers are locked into the Chase for the Championship.
That said, it wasn’t an easy outing for the Las Vegas native, who led twice for 15 of the race’s 90 laps.
Busch started eighth, and despite moving to sixth by lap 12, he radioed crew chief Steve Addington that his car was lacking grip throughout much of racetrack.
Addington and Busch took advantage of an early caution and pitted on lap 19 for four tires, fuel and a tire-pressure adjustment.
The changes helped the M&M’s Toyota, and throughout the next several laps, Busch steadily drove his No. 18 machine toward the front of the 43-car field. By lap 34, he passed three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson for the lead.
He led the next 12 laps before dropping to second when eventual race-winner Tony Stewart took over the lead on lap 46. Busch stayed in second and took the lead again on lap 65 before Stewart regained the point three laps later. And once Stewart got by, Busch radioed to Addington that his car was not handling as well as it had earlier in the race.
Busch fell back to fourth by lap 69 and remained there until the checkered flag fell.
“That wore me out, right there,” said Busch, who won last year’s Sprint Cup race at The Glen. “I could barely hang on to fourth. It was great for all the M&M’s team guys. They did a great job this weekend. We fought hard. It was three times harder than I had to drive here last year, and last year we spanked them.”
It was Busch’s fifth top-five finish of 2009 and his fourth top-10 in five career Sprint Cup starts at The Glen.
Busch’s JGR teammates, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, finished 10th and 16th, respectively.
Stewart beat Marcos Ambrose by 2.969 seconds to win the Heluva Good! at The Glen. It was his 36th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Watkins Glen, making him the winningest driver in track history – a mark that is unsurpassed in NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One and sports cars.
Finishing third was Carl Edwards, while Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, rookie Max Papis, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 13 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 220.5-mile race.
With 22 of 36 races in the books, Hamlin leads the JGR trio in the championship standings. His 10th-place finish maintained his fifth-place point standing. He has 2,847 points and is 536 markers behind series leader Stewart. Logano stood pat in 19th and now has 2,280 points, 1,103 markers back of the lead.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 16 CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.