Tricky Kansas Surface No Treat for Busch
Posted October 21, 2012
Lap 181 Accident Ends Day Early for M&M’s Halloween Team
Date: Oct. 21, 2012
Event: Hollywood Casino 400 (Round 32 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 4th/31st (Accident, completed 181 of 267 laps)
Point Standing: 13th (964 points, 53 ahead of 14th)
Winner: Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing (Ford)
The newly resurfaced Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., proved to be quite tricky for many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400, producing a race-record 14 cautions for 66 laps.
Unfortunately Kyle Busch, who sported a special Halloween scheme on his No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), was involved in two of those cautions. Busch spun on his own without contact on Lap 40 and recovered to run as high as seventh. But he was spun by Ryan Newman on Lap 181, causing significant damage that ended his day short of the 267-lap race distance.
“Everything was just on edge out there,” said Busch, who has not had good fortunes at Kansas, with just two top-10 finishes in 11th Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile oval. “You’re really slipping and sliding and fighting for as much grip as you can find out there, so I came down the back straightaway. I came low a little bit to protect the bottom and try to make sure I could keep my line down there -- I’ve been losing spots on the top all day. Then (Ryan) Newman just ran up on the back of me and got me loose -- I’ve been loose all day -- and then he ran into the back of me and spun me out, so just impatience. It was just a disappointing for everyone on this M&M’s team.”
After starting fourth, Busch quickly worked his way up to third on Lap 19 with his M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry and looked like a contender for victory in the 400-mile race. But the first piece of adversity struck on Lap 40 when Busch, who was fighting an extremely loose racecar, spun exiting turn four and through the frontstretch grass. Fortunately Busch never hit the wall and had no damage.
Under caution for his spin, the M&M’s team was able to change four tires and return to the race still on the lead lap in 33rd-place. But Busch didn’t stay there long, moving his way up to 26th by Lap 48 and 23rd by Lap 70. After taking only fuel under caution on Lap 73, Busch found himself all the way back up to eighth place. But handling issues continued to plague the M&M’s team, with Busch dropping to 15th by Lap 88.
Busch was able to pit twice during a series of cautions that began on Lap 137 and extended on and off all the way until Lap 180. Crew chief Dave Rogers made air pressure and wedge adjustments to tighten the loose handling of the car.
The yellow flag stops also helped Busch gain track position, as he sat in ninth on the Lap 181 restart. But as the field exited turn four just one lap later, Newman got under the left rear of Busch’s M&M’s Toyota, sending him sliding backward hard into the outside SAFER Barrier at the exit of the turn. While Busch drove his car to the garage, there was too much damage to return to the race.
Busch’s JGR companions – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished 13th and 19th, respectively.
Matt Kenseth won the Hollywood Casino 400 to score his 24th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Kansas.
Martin Truex Jr. finished .495 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were a race-record 14 caution periods for 66 laps, with 16 drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.
Hamlin is representing JGR in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, and he left Kansas holding on to third place in the standings with 2,230 points, 20 points behind Chase leader Keselowski.
Busch maintained 13th in the standings with 964 points, 53 ahead of 14th-place Carl Edwards. Logano lost one position and sits 18th with 857 points, 107 points behind Busch in 13th. Since they are not Chase participants, Busch and Logano can finish no higher than 13th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the TUMS Fast Relief 500 on Oct. 28 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.