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Early Woes Preclude Fairy Tale Endings for Busches
For Kyle Busch, you can go home again (next year) -- but right now he's happy to be leaving Las Vegas.
Less than 100 laps into Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch blew a tire. A few laps later, he blew an engine. And just like that, the Las Vegas native was out of his hometown race. In between those incidents, overzealousness on the part of Kurt Busch sent him spinning.
The yearly trip home wasn't a smooth one for Kurt and Kyle Busch. Kyle had a tire and engine go down on him while Kurt had to come back from a spin.
Not only did Kurt manage to stay in the race, he rallied to finish ninth and move into a first-place tie in the point standings (he's recognized as second because the tiebreaker gives the nod to the driver with the best finish of the season; Tony Stewart finished second Sunday).
"We wanted to win this thing for sure. I came up just a bit short in my hometown," said Busch, now winless in 11 races at Vegas (it was just his third top-10). "I think I may have pushed a bit too hard early driving the car as hard as I did. After I got loose in Turn 3 and spun the car, I just settled into the race and tried to start picking off as many spots as I could."
Kurt got loose and too close to Juan Montoya on a restart following the caution for Kyle's blown tire.
"I got too racy. I wanted the lead and get the bonus point and you can't do that. You have to race your race, let the race come to you," Kurt said. "I'm not sure we had the winning car but we were good enough to be top 10 and get as many points as I could. We're right up where we need to be in points."
Kyle came into the race as the points leader, and lamented Friday that holding that lofty position would be better if there were only two races left in the season instead of it being just two races (at the time) into the season. Sunday bore out that thought process.
Busch finished 38th and dropped to 14th in points.
"Fortunately it's early enough in the year that we can still bounce back and rebound to get ourselves in contention and solidly in the Chase before we get to race No. 26," Busch said.
Busch was running second when his tire blew and fell a lap down. He got the free pass when Kurt brought out the caution, but then fire emitted from Kyle's car and smoke filled the cockpit.
"It's really unfortunate. We had a great race car," Busch said. "The car was running awesome.
"Obviously, we have some sort of problem that we have to get through and work around. We're trying to make the best horsepower we can to keep up with some other teams that we know have better horsepower than we do. The guys keep trying to find every ounce they can and, unfortunately, sometimes we push the limits. The pieces that break sometimes are smaller than your pinky fingernail. It's hard on them."
In typical driver fashion, Busch said the disappointment of his finish was no more exasperated by its location.
"It wouldn't be any different if it were any other race," he said.