Busch Nabs Top-10 Finish at Nazareth
- May 23, 2004
NAZARETH, Pa. (May 23, 2004) – Kyle Busch and the No. 5 Team Lowe’s Racing crew battled back from two lengthy pit stops to score a 10th-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Busch Series event at Nazareth Speedway.
The result extends the team’s streak of top-10 finishes to eight in a row, dating back to the March race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
“We had a couple of bad pit stops, but it wasn’t really the guys’ fault,” Busch said of the team’s day. “We just had to make the changes we needed on the first stop. The second one, the No. 2 (Ron Hornaday) got a little deep in his (pit) box, which got the No. 22 (Jason Keller) deep in his box. And I got over the (pit stall) line, which messed us up.
“It wasn’t a bad day, but it wasn’t what we wanted.”
After starting from the pole position for the fourth time in 2004, Busch and his No. 5 Lowe’s/Shop-Vac Chevrolet led the first 54 laps of the 200-lap event. Shortly thereafter, Busch told his crew that his car was losing front grip, and he felt his brakes were overheating.
When Busch brought his car to the attention of his crew on Lap 74, the team made a number of adjustments to its entry. The pit crew put a spring rubber in the right-rear spring to help the car’s handling; removed tape to allow more air to the ductwork that helps cool the brakes; and made air-pressure adjustments to the new set of Goodyear Eagle tires the crew bolted on the No. 5.
The crew made fast work of the changes, although some track position was lost. After entering pit road in the second position, Busch returned to the track in 12th.
The adjustments had the desired result on the car’s handling, and Busch quickly worked his way back into the top 10. When Mike Bliss made contact with the wall to bring out a caution flag on Lap 144, Busch was in seventh and seemed poised to make a charge into the top five.
That charge never materialized, as the No. 5 team ran into a problem when Busch came to pit road on Lap 148 for his final stop of the day.
After winning the pole, the No. 5 team received the first choice of pit stalls, and picked the first pit box, closest to Turn 1.
Jason Keller’s team had the stall just before Busch’s, and Ron Hornaday’s team had the stall next to Keller’s. Hornaday was the first to reach his pit box, and stopped with the nose of his car arced toward pit road.
Keller had to go around Hornaday’s car to reach his stall, and made contact with Hornaday’s front-tire carrier in the process. This put Keller’s car in an awkward position in its stall, which forced Busch to drive around Keller’s car. Unfortunately, the nose of Busch’s machine was over the front edge of his pit stall when he came to a stop, which meant his team had to push the car back behind that line before doing any work.
Busch, who was in seventh when he entered pit road, was shown in 17th after the stop.
The young driver quickly clawed his way back through the field, passing Paul Menard on Lap 160 to take over the 13th position. He then passed Stacy Compton on Lap 165 for 11th, and Ron Hornaday on Lap 188 for the 10th spot. Unfortunately, the race ended before Busch could improve his position any further.
“That last set of tires made the car a little tighter,” Busch said. “I was trying to get by the No. 23 (Kenny Wallace), but he was just too strong there at the end.
“Last weekend, we were on the highest of highs, but this week, we’re not necessarily on a low whatsoever. We’re actually pretty good because we finished 10th, and any top-10s you can get are good for the championship standings. That’s all that counts.”
Busch now sits second in the Busch Series championship standings, 31 points back of leader Martin Truex Jr.
For the 11th time in 12 races, Busch was named the Raybestos Rookie of the Race, and holds a commanding lead over Menard in the battle for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title.
The members of the No. 5 Team Lowe’s Racing crew will get to sleep in their own beds next weekend, as the Busch Series visits the team’s home track, Lowe’s Motor Speedway, in Concord, N.C.
For good reason, the track is one of Busch’s favorites. In the very first race of his Busch Series career, he started fifth and finished second at LMS last May, shortly after his 18th birthday.
The 300-mile race will air live from Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on FX and PRN Radio.
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