News & Media


Busch frustrated after another Chase near-victory

October 17, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- After leading most laps, he says he was simply outdriven at end of Charlotte race

After leading the most laps in the Bank of America 500 for the second consecutive year, but failing to win Charlotte Motor Speedway's Chase for the Sprint Cup event, Kyle Busch had every right to be frustrated Saturday night.

Adding insult to that injury was the fact that Matt Kenseth simply out-ran Busch in the race's final two green flag segments, including the last 12 laps after the race's eighth restart.

"The frustration is, again, we did not finish where we wanted to, which could have been a real win, a real highlight."

--KYLE BUSCH

"[The race car] was just not good enough -- Kenseth just outdrove me," Busch said. "He found something out of nothing where there wasn't anything to be found for us. You try to run that extra 10 percent and sometimes you can find speed -- most of the time I can't -- he did. I'm already there, I can't get no more.

"The guys gave me a great race car. I didn't make a change to it all night. Just come home and rode with what we could."

And even though Busch is sitting in the best position he's ever had at the halfway point of the 10-race Chase -- fourth behind Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Kenseth -- he had a hard time smiling too much after the race.

"We've kind of set out that we need to start finishing where we run during the race, and we have not done that maybe but Loudon [New Hampshire]," Busch said of his 11th-place finish in the Chase's second race. "[Saturday] night, we certainly ran really, really well. We ran strong. We drove up through the field and we got in position to win the race and was leading much of the majority of the end there.

"[I] just got outdrove there by Kenseth, on the [final] restart. He just flat out drove right past me like I was standing still. The frustration is, again, we did not finish where we wanted to, which could have been a real win, a real highlight."

Busch's runner-up finish was his best since he won at Michigan in August, eight races ago, and it was his first top-five since then. It came after he finished 11th twice and sixth twice in the four Chase races that preceded Charlotte.

Busch made his evening a thrill after his Joe Gibbs Racing crew had to make a pre-race engine change that sent him to the rear for the start. Busch said he knew little about the cause other than "I heard something in the valve train, a rocker-arm stud, that's all."

Busch was 28th after 20 laps, but then he got mired in the 20s for more than 60 laps.

"There was a point in which the leader was going into [Turn] 1 and I was coming off of 2," Busch said. "So that kind of leaves you a little bit worrisome. But you just have to let it play out. There's obviously the big chance in getting caught up in something early.

"There was a couple of cars that came off Turn 4 within the first 10 laps of the race pulling sideways and I don't know how they didn't wreck. I was checking up to see what was going to happen, whether they were going to go shooting through the grass or keep it straight. That always keeps you on your toes, keeps you a little nervous. Overall, that's just a product of racing."

So it took Busch more than a third of the race to work his way into the top 10, and he said the struggle was obvious.

"It was just real tough to pass and make up ground," Busch said. "You could be two-tenths [of a second] faster than the guy in front of you and run him down and catch him and [then] slow down and just get stuck. So you had to be creative and work your way up and work your way past guys.

"We just kept running with it and just kept letting the race play out, and let it do what it was supposed to do. Lo and behold, we thought we were going to win and you get down to all of these late restarts and give it away."

Busch led a single lap, 125, until things cycled through to the point that Busch was either first or second at every 20-lap scoring mark from lap 160 to the race's end, lap 334. But it wasn't enough.

And as he looks ahead to the Chase's second half, he's won Cup races at Talladega and Phoenix -- but not in the Chase. Needless to say, that nags him a little bit.

"The next frustration is we have yet to win a Chase race, and I'm sure I'll be hearing about that for the next four years if I continue that," Busch said of the gap in his 23 career Cup wins. "But, you know, we'll keep working on it, and going into next week at Talladega and see if we can't get one there."

Busch knows, being 18 points behind and given how his competition's running, he might have to win more than once. Homestead, the site of the season finale Ford 400, hasn't been kind to Busch with only one finish, eighth in 2009, better than 19th in the past six years.

"We have to keep finishing like this -- it's all it takes," Busch said. "It's not that hard. We finally finished where we ran except we didn't [win]. We still lost a position, which is four points, essentially, because you get three bonus points for winning a race.

"Again, it's frustrating, but we'll take it and if we can finish second from here on out then we might win this deal. These other guys -- the 99 [Edwards] and the 29 [Harvick] finished too good [Saturday] night, too.

"So with the weeks remaining, we just can only take it one by one, and go into next week and put our best foot forward, put our best car on the race track and try to win Talladega and from there go to Martinsville, where we get better every time we show up. There's certainly some positive tracks that are coming up that we look forward to."