Post-Race: Daytona

Busch Involved in Last Lap Accident; Still Finishes 12th at Daytona

Posted July 7, 2013

Date: July 6, 2013
Event: Coke Zero 400 (Round 18 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 1st / 12th (Running, complete of 161 of 161 laps)
Point Standing: 7th (533 points, 125 out of first, 40 ahead of 11th)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet) in a green-white-checkered finish

It would be quite the understatement to say that Kyle Busch had an eventful race in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

The driver of the No. 18 Interstate All Battery Center Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) led 29 laps early in the race, suffered damage in a lap-98 accident and roared back from 36th place to position himself for a top-10 finish in the scheduled 160-lap race. But after a two-lap shootout to decide the finish, Busch was involved in a multicar accident as the field came roaring to the checkered flag, where he slid across the finish line in 12th.

“We had a good Interstate All Battery Center Camry,” said Busch, who won this race in 2008. “When Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex Jr.) spun, we got a piece of it and it was pretty significant. But the guys did a nice job of patching it up and we were able to get back up there. We just didn’t have the track position there at the end and we didn’t have anywhere to go and got involved in the wreck there at the end.”

After recording his third pole position of the season, his first ever on a superspeedway, Busch took control of the lead on the second lap and held that position until the first caution of the race flew on lap 25.

Busch held steady near the top-10 until some tough luck struck the Interstate All Battery Center team on lap 98. Martin Truex Jr., spun ahead of him, and teammate Denny Hamlin slowed quickly to avoid the spinning Truex, but Busch couldn’t get slowed up quickly enough and ran into the back of Hamlin with the right front of his racecar.

But the Interstate All Battery Center team didn’t skip a beat as it masterfully made repairs to the right-front corner of Busch’s Toyota over the course of two pit stops. Busch restarted 36th on lap 104 but didn’t stay there long as he found himself up to 16th by lap 108 and 10th by lap 115. Despite the strong comeback, Busch couldn’t work his way up any further as he floated between 10th and 14th during the 46-lap run to the finish.

As he sat in 13th on the last lap and the field roared toward the finish line, several cars spun around him. It looked as if Busch snuck through the chaos on the inside but was tagged in the right rear, sending him up into the car of Casey Mears above him. Busch’s Interstate All Battery Center Toyota was heavily damaged but made it across the finish line in 12th. Even more importantly, Busch was uninjured, despite the hard contact in the multicar pileup coming to the finish line.

Busch’s JGR teammates – Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished 33rd and 36th, respectively.

Jimmie Johnson won the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola to score his 64th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his third at Daytona. Johnson, who also won this year’s season-opening Daytona 500, became the first driver since NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison in 1982 to sweep the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in the same season.

Tony Stewart finished .107 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mears and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top- 10.

There were six caution periods for 27 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 161-lap race, which was extended one lap by a green-white-checkered finish.

With round 18 of 36 complete, Kenseth continues to lead the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He dropped on spot to sixth in the standings with 540 points, 118 behind series leader Johnson and 47 ahead of 11th-place Truex. Busch maintained seventh with 533 points, 125 out of first and 40 ahead of Truex. Hamlin dropped one spot to 26th with 338 points, 320 out of first and 161 behind 10th-place Stewart.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Camping World RV Sales 301 on Sunday, July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

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