Kyle Busch leads practice, but forced to backup
May 24, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
Kyle Busch's opening lap of 188.640 mph in final practice proved good enough to pace the session, but on his second circuit of Charlotte Motor Speedway the Joe Gibbs Racing driver banged up against the wall. The damage was severe enough that No. 18 team rolled out a backup car, which means Busch will have to start NASCAR's longest event from the rear of the field, and in a vehicle different from the one which led practice Saturday.
Jimmy Makar, senior vice president for racing operations at JGR, said the contact bent the splitter bars and front-end suspension pieces in the No. 18 car. "It's bad enough to not be able to fix it," he said.
The No. 18 team was able to get Busch's backup onto the race track for about the final 20 minutes of the final practice. In his first run Busch radioed that the backup was "not even close to the other one," but Makar said by the end the driver was turning competitive laps that should keep him in contention Sunday evening.
"We got the backup on the race track, and he ran some decent laps. They were competitive," Makar said. "I think it's a good race car, so I think we should be in OK shape there. There were a couple of really fast cars in practice today that you'll have to contend with. But we'll have something he can race with, for sure."
Busch's lap in his primary car led a final session that also included Joey Logano, Danica Patrick, Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson in the top five.
Points leader Jeff Gordon did not take part after cutting the day's first practice short because of back spasms. The 29-year-old Busch is seeking his first career victory at the 1.5-mile Charlotte track.