Busch Powers to Fourth at Talladega
- Apr 24, 2004
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 24, 2004) – Kyle Busch and his No. 5 Team Lowe’s Racing crew posted their fourth top-10 finish in as many races with a fourth-place showing in Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series event at Talladega Superspeedway.
“To be a Raybestos Rookie and come out here and finish fourth and basically have a strong day at a restrictor plate race is definitely what you need,” Busch said. “It was definitely a lot of fun.
“The team did a great job and we had a lot of turmoil to overcome, but we were able to make it through it.”
The “turmoil” Busch referred to came early in the race, when an overheating problem on the Lowe’s/Briggs and Stratton Chevrolet threatened to bring an early end to the team’s day.
Starting the race from the 13th position, Busch completed a handful of laps before announcing that the oil and water temperatures on his car were extremely high. In an effort to get more air to the engine, Busch dropped out of the lead draft.
The tactic caused the temperatures to drop slightly, but crew chief Lance McGrew knew he had to do more to fix the problem.
That chance came when a caution flag flew around Lap 45. The crew changed four tires and filled the fuel cell before going to work on the car’s nose.
“It wasn’t really a little overheating problem, it was a big overheating problem,” McGrew said. “The guys really stepped up when we came in.
“If it was a green flag stop, we would have just pulled some tape, but the caution happened to fall to where we could work on it. We cut another hole in the bottom grille and put a grille on the outside of that.”
The time it took to complete the modification dropped Busch back to 29th position for the restart. With the overheating problem resolved, he didn’t stay there for long, and charged into the top-five by Lap 59.
Busch stayed in and around the top-10 until pitting for the final time around Lap 87. The Hendrick crew put on four tires and filled the car’s fuel cell in only 13.9 seconds.
On the restart, Busch again demonstrated the power of his Lowe’s/Briggs and Stratton machine, powering into the top-five by Lap 96. After getting shuffled back in the following laps, Busch narrowly avoided being caught up in a large crash on Lap 101.
When the debris from that 10-car pileup was cleared away, Busch was in 12th position on the Lap 106 restart. Another caution came out two laps later, with Busch being shown in seventh position on the Lap 111 restart.
From there, Busch dropped in behind Ron Hornaday, who was in third. It appeared that Hornaday and Busch might mount a late-race charge on Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr., but a crash with two laps remaining caused NASCAR to freeze the field and end the event under caution.
“I think we needed a few more green flag laps,” Busch said of the finish. “Hornaday was really working over (Dale Earnhardt) Junior, and he was definitely going to wear him out and be able to get by him, and then once we got by him, then it wasn’t DEI power up front anymore. So then, we would be able to get there.”
Crew chief Lance McGrew said the day was a great example of how Team Lowe’s Racing can turn a setback into a positive.
“It could have very easily been a real bad day and a 30th-place finish, and we brought home another top-five, which is really awesome,” McGrew said. “It’s always about momentum in this sport, and everyone on this team is clicking on all eight cylinders.
“We’re ready to go to California and try to do it again.”
Busch has now been the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in seven of the eight races this season, and has stretched his lead to 43 points over Paul Menard (120-77) in the Raybestos Rookie standings.
Busch is fourth in the Busch Series championship standings, 43 points behind leader Michael Waltrip.
The Team Lowe’s Racing crew now visits California Speedway for the 300-mile Busch Series event. The race airs live on FOX and MRN Radio affiliates on Saturday, May 1 at 4 p.m. ET.