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Busch overcomes 'gas pains' to finish third at MIS

June 20, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- A couple Tums and a shot of water, coupled with a pretty sporty Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, added up to a third-place finish for Kyle Busch Sunday in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

It won't lead to crew chief Dave Rogers getting a medical degree, but he did draw some amusement from what turned out to be a simple fix for Busch's "ailment." Busch looked pretty sprightly on pit road after exiting his car -- though his entire uniform was wringing wet.

"I had a little bit of chest pain early in the race -- I don't know what it was from -- [but] it was really hard to breathe," Busch said. "It was right here [pointing to his heart], inside. I couldn't tell you what it was. I don't know. I've never felt that before. I had to take real short breaths, felt like I was running a 400-mile marathon, which essentially I was -- but I felt like I was running on my feet instead of in a race car.

"I guess they gave me some Tums and water, and it fixed it. That was all there was to it."

Rogers, who'd played Mr. Fix It in more ways than one, was relishing the moment after the race, jokingly saying "let me check our sponsor list [for stomach aids]." But then he got serious.

"He was having some gas pains, so we broke up some Tums and put them in his water -- he asked if it was straight water -- but that made him feel better," Rogers said. "But man, I'm really excited about working with Kyle [because] this is Michigan, we finished third and we had a shot at winning."

That's a far cry from Busch's most recent 12 starts here, which did include a second, in August 2008, but an average finish of 17th. It had Rogers in a mood to celebrate.

"That's cool, because last year we struggled here [finishing 20th and 18th]," Rogers said. "The second race we had speed, but we still didn't finish up front. So to come here and drive from 24th up to the lead, on the race track, lead a bunch of laps and finish third, that's great.

"This notoriously isn't one of our better tracks and we still got a top-five out of it, same as Pocono, so I'm really, really proud of this race team right now."

The icing for JGR, after teammate Denny Hamlin defended his MIS victory while breaking a 16-race winless streak, was that, after Busch's second consecutive third-place finish, it boosted him a position in the Sprint Cup standings, to fourth -- unofficially 29 points behind leader Carl Edwards.

Busch started 24th but led a single lap during a green-flag pit cycle at Lap 85. He raced back into the lead by Lap 100 and he led 58 laps between there and Lap 160 and he was never scored worse than sixth at any official 10-lap interval in the race's second half.

"It started out a little bit rough, but I had a great car, man," Busch said, adding that two cautions in the last 40 laps, including one with only nine laps to go, sealed the outcome.

"If it would've went green the rest of the way we may have had a shot at winning the thing, but had a couple of cautions and it caught Denny [Hamlin] up and caught the rest of the guys up.

"I guess they gave me some Tums and water, and it fixed it. That was all there was to it."

--KYLE BUSCH

"It was a great race -- good racing there and I can't say congrats enough to the 11 team [Hamlin]. They did a great job, they've helped us a ton this year and I think we helped them a little bit this weekend. They did a great job at being able to execute and being in the right place at the right time and get the job done [Sunday]. Overall, wish we would've had a one-two, but close enough."

For Rogers, after getting having his team hit with a points penalty last week after a technical infraction at Pocono, then seeing him and his teammates having unapproved oil pans confiscated on Friday, the race was a manner of redemption -- for all of JGR.

"I'm extremely proud of this race team," Rogers said. "We sat down this morning and said, 'What are we here for -- what are we trying to accomplish?' We're here to win a championship, that's what we're here for, that's what we want to do."

"And to win that championship you're going to have to stay focused through adversity. Last year, I don't think we did a good job at that. Looking at our own race team and looking at my performance, I don't think we handled adversity very well last year and I think the 48 [five-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson] handled adversity exceptionally -- and I think that was the difference.

"This year, what I'm most proud about -- we've led more laps than anybody -- but what I'm most proud about is how well we're handling adversity, all the guys. They have that stoic look on 'em, they don't let the games mess with 'em, they stay focused and I'm proud of 'em for that."

Busch agreed with that sentiment.

"I think the guys come in this weekend, not knowing that we were going to have the problems that we had," Busch said. "It just was circumstances that came about that they had to deal with at the time. All the crew members and crew chiefs, that is. Once they got everything squared away and fixed, we got to the race track, it was business as usual.

"I think everybody did a great job in that respect. We'll see what happens this week, if anything [in the aftermath of the oil pan seizure]."