March 21, 2010
Busch Rallies from Cut Tire To Post Top-10 at Bristol
Date: March 21, 2010
Patience and Quick Work by M&M’s Team Help Busch Earn First Top-10 of 2010
Event: Food City 500 (Round 5 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
Start/Finish: 38th/9th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Kyle Busch rallied from a midrace brush with the wall and subsequent broken shock to score a solid ninth-place finish in Sundayís Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 18 M&Mís Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) was in 16th place on lap 274 of the 500-lap event when he cut a right-front tire and his car smacked the SAFER Barrier on the outside of turns one and two. Making the rally even more impressive is the teamís discovery after the race that the contact with the SAFER Barrier caused the right-front shock to break.
While it appeared Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and the M&Mís crew might have to settle for a finish of 20th or worse, they responded in a way befitting of teams that win championships. Rather than giving up, the No. 18 team worked through several pit stops to repair the M&Mís Camry and still remain on the lead lap. Busch then drove hard and smart throughout the final half of the event by methodically working his way to the front.
Ultimately, Busch and the M&Mís team moved from 29th after the accident to a top-10 finish when the checkered flag flew. While not a win, the team will gladly take the ninth-place finish after struggling with handling issues in Fridayís practice and then qualifying a disappointing 38th during time trials.
"It just wasnít the kind of car we wanted to bring back here to Bristol," said Busch, who won both Sprint Cup races at the .533-mile oval in 2009. "We just worked from behind all weekend long. The right-front went down and I got into the wall there in about the middle of the race and things didnít look good. The guys never gave up and I never gave up and, somehow, we got a decent finish out of it. We need to do some more work for when we bring this M&Mís Camry back here in August. We want to run better, but you need to make the bad days the best you can if you want to make the chase and have a shot at a championship. We did what we needed to do today."
The ninth-place finish was the first top-10 for the M&Mís team in 2010 and Buschís eighth in 11 career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol.
"Iím really proud of this M&Mís crew," Rogers said. "We worked so hard all weekend. We came here with a setup, the exact same setup that the 18 car won the last two races with. We knew the car would be free off the truck. We just waited for the track to come to us and it never did. We were so loose in qualifying Ė about spun out and qualified terribly, qualified 38th. Then, Saturday morning, we went the other way, tightened it up, jumped the fence and spent Saturday afternoon undoing it. These guys worked their butts off, they never gave up, they never questioned what they were working on. To come out of here with a ninth-place finish, I know Kyleís won the last two (at Bristol) and I would have liked to have made it three in a row, but Iím pretty proud of this team to get a top-10 out of that."
Buschís JGR teammates Ė Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano Ė finished 19th and 27th, respectively.
With five of 36 races in the books, Busch leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He gained five spots to climb to 10th place with 606 points and is 168 markers back of leader Kevin Harvick. Logano dropped three spots to 17th and has 558 points, 216 markers arrears Harvick. Hamlin rose three spots to 19th and has 515 points, 259 markers back.
Jimmie Johnson won the Food City 500 to score his 50th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Bristol. Johnson is now in a three-way tie for 10th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson.
Tony Stewart finished .894 of a second behind Johnson, while Kurt Busch, who led 10 times for 278 laps, finished third. Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 103 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the March 28 Goodyís Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.