Bad Luck Continues To Follow Kurt Busch At Richmond

May 4, 2008

RICHMOND, Va. (May 4, 2008) - Kurt Busch was an innocent victim for the second consecutive weekend along the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour, getting caught up in another multi-car crash in Saturday night's Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway.  The end result relegated the Miller Lite Dodge driver to a 42nd place finish and dropped him five spots to 25th in the point standings.

"We're trying so hard with our Miller Lite Dodge and just can't steer clear of all the problems," said Busch.  "It's hard to believe we can have a Talladega-style crash here at Richmond, but that's pretty much the best way to describe it.

"The 10 car (Patrick Carpentier) spun into the inside wall and shot straight back across the track.  We had nowhere to go and plowed the front end right in there.  It stacked them up and there were probably a good quarter of the field that got caught up in it.

"Our luck has to change sooner or later," added Busch regarding getting caught in the 12-car pileup.  "It looks like we're just going to have to hang tough until that happens."

Busch started 21st in the race and stayed in that spot for the first third of the race.  However, Juan Pablo Montoya spun in Turn 2 on Lap 139 to bring out the third yellow flag of the race, the Miller Lite Dodge began to move up through the field.

Busch made it up to 12th and was threatening to move into the top-10 when the familiar "no turning off the center of the turn and loose off condition" again crept into the picture.  He had fallen to 16th when David Gilliland met the Turn 2 wall on Lap 205 to bring out the fourth caution period of the night.

The No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge driver was 16th on the Lap 210 restart and was glad to get another caution flag 11 laps later, in order to reverse chassis changes made under the previous pit stop.

Busch was 17th on the Lap 226 restart and was hoping to hook up with Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman, running 18th at the time, and move back toward the front of the pack.

Working Lap 230, Carl Edwards got into the rear end of J.J. Yeley's Toyota and created a slowing "domino effect" back through the field.  Dave Blaney attempted to slow, but rammed Carpentier's Dodge from the rear.  Carpentier fishtailed, then smacked the inside wall before veering straight back into the paths of Busch and the rest of the oncoming traffic.

The multi-car incident was so severe that NASCAR officials were forced to display the red flag for an extensive cleanup that required some 22 minutes.  Busch took the mandatory ambulance ride to the infield hospital for a checkup and then headed for his team transporter to cool off.  He was able to do so and change into street clothes before emerging to meet the throng of media members gathered outside.

"It's a really difficult time for our Miller Lite Dodge Team right now and we're doing everything we can to get things turned around," Busch said.  "We just have to keep plugging away and that's what we'll continue to do."

Up at RIR, it was the "Denny Hamlin Show" until less than 20 laps remaining.  Then the fireworks really began.  Hamlin had led 381 laps and shown total domination in a record fashion.  But a flat front tire on Hamlin's Toyota with 17 laps remaining took him from the picture.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had last won on the circuit here two years ago and looked to end that victory drought as he was leading with five laps remaining.  Kyle Busch, replaced by Earnhardt at Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the 2007 season, was second on the restart.  He was able to close in on Earnhardt's rear bumper with four laps remaining and made a daring moving to the inside.  Unfortunately, he washed up into Earnhardt and the No. 88 car went spinning into the outside wall.

While the smoke cleared, Clint Bowyer slid by to gain the lead as the final yellow flag set up a green-white-checkered finish.  The top six cars stayed on the track and Bowyer led on the ensuing restart.  While Busch and Mark Martin battled for the runner-up spot, Bowyer was able to cruise to his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory. 

Busch held off Martin for the runner-up spot, with Tony Stewart finishing fourth and Martin Truex Jr. fifth.  Kevin Harvick, Newman, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Reed Sorenson rounded out tonight's top-10 finishers.  Earnhardt was credited with a 16th place finish.

Kyle Busch grabbed the points lead after his second-place finish here tonight.  With 1495 points, he has a 21-point lead of Jeff Burton.  Earnhardt is third and 107 points behind the younger Busch brother.

Newman was able to maintain current "Chase eligibility" with his solid performance and keep hopes alive for Penske Racing's return to the run for the championship.  Newman is 11th in the standings with 1,208 points.  He holds a 52 point cushion over 13th place Gordon.  Penske Racing rookie Sam Hornish Jr. finished 23rd and holds down the 34th spot in the points.

Next, the Sprint Cup tour returns to the historical Darlington Raceway for next weekend's Dodge Challenger 500.  The 367-lap,  501.3-mile battle around the 1.366-mile freshly-paved egg-shaped oval has a 7:20 p.m. EDT starting time next Saturday and features live coverage by FOX-TV and MRN Radio.