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Team Lowe’s Claims Top-Five Finish at Dover

  • Jun 07, 2004

DOVER, Del. (June 7, 2004) – Neither rain, nor radio problems, nor a damaged car could keep driver Kyle Busch and the No. 5 Team Lowe’s Racing crew from posting a top-five finish in the 200-mile NASCAR Busch Series race at Dover International Speedway.

After rain postponed the completion of the event from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, Busch and his Hendrick Motorsports crew overcame a number of obstacles to post a fifth-place finish in the event.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it,” Busch said.  “I’ve got to hand it to the guys on this Team Lowe’s Racing crew.  Even with all the problems we had today, they kept digging and we made a good day out of what could have been a horrible day.

“That shows why this team won the championship last year. You never say die.”

The result is the team’s seventh top-five finish of 2004 and its 10th top-10 finish in a row.

Starting the event from the 14th position on Saturday, Busch made his way to the seventh spot on the leaderboard before precipitation caused NASCAR to bring out the red flag on Lap 29 of the 200-lap event.

After waiting close to six hours for the rain to dissipate, officials were forced to postpone the event until Monday morning at 11 a.m. ET.

As soon as Busch started his engine on Monday, the challenges began.

When Busch checked his in-car radio, the team discovered that a problem with the system was preventing Busch from verbally communicating with his crew.  While Busch could hear spotter Tom Busch and crew chief Lance McGrew speaking to him, the only way he could communicate back to them was by using hand signals.

McGrew told his driver to communicate a tight-handling condition by putting his hand on the upper part of the driver’s side window, and a hand on the “A-post” between the windshield and the driver’s side window would signify a loose condition.  The severity of the condition would be conveyed on a scale of one to three, based on the number of fingers Busch held up.

McGrew told his driver to come to pit road for fresh tires and fuel as the field of cars made a few warm-up laps prior to the restart of the event.  Virtually every driver in the field also pitted at the same time, which made for a very tight squeeze on Dover’s notoriously narrow pit road.

As Busch exited his pit box, contact was made with another car, damaging the right-front fender of the No. 5 Lowe’s/Shop-Vac Chevrolet.  The team had no choice but to bring Busch back in to pull the fender away from the tire, costing the them a number of positions and putting Busch deep in the field on the restart.

Shortly after the race returned to green-flag conditions, Justin Labonte lost control of his car, causing the rest of the field to check up to avoid the accident.  Unable to slow down in time, Busch made contact with the car in front of him, damaging the nose of his entry.

McGrew told his driver to come to pit road, where the Hendrick Motorsports crew made sure enough air was flowing to the car’s radiator to keep the engine from overheating.  By the time Busch returned to the track for the Lap 40 restart, he was still on the lead lap, but was being shown all the way back in 32nd position.

Just two laps later, Kevin Harvick tapped Johnny Sauter, setting off a chain reaction that collected Mike Wallace, Joe Nemechek and David Stremme, among others.  During the melee, Busch spun his No. 5 Chevrolet, which resulted in cuts to three of his tires, but no cosmetic damage to the car.

Busch brought his Lowe’s/Shop-Vac Chevy to pit road, where his crew bolted on four fresh tires and pulled more tape off the car’s grill to improve air flow to the radiator, sending Busch back out in 25th position for the Lap 49 restart.

The Team Lowe’s Racing driver wasted no time in working his way toward the front of the field, moving up to 17th position in just 16 laps.  Busch continued his charge through the pack, picking up positions on Laps 82, 89, 91, 92, 96, 97 and 103.

By the time the caution flag came out for an accident on Lap 108, the No. 5 entry was back up to seventh on the leaderboard.

Busch came to pit road for fresh tires and fuel under the yellow flag, and quick work by the Hendrick Motorsports crew sent him back out in fifth position for the Lap 115 restart.

Busch remained in the top-five until a caution came out for debris on the track at Lap 144.  McGrew elected to bring Busch in and put fresh right-side tires on the Team Lowe’s Chevy, sending his driver back out in sixth position for the Lap 151 restart.

From there, Busch moved as high as fourth position, but a loose-handling condition in the closing laps allowed Bobby Hamilton Jr. to get by Busch and drop him to fifth at the finish of the event.

“A fifth-place finish feels almost as good as a win today,” McGrew said.  “This is how you win championships.  You try to have as many good days as you can, and you make the most of the bad days when they happen.  That’s what this team did today.

“I’m very proud of the way everyone performed.  It looked for a while like nothing was going to go right for us today, but the guys sucked it up and really shined.  We’ll take it and go on to Nashville (Tenn.).”

With the finish, Busch retains a 13-point lead over Martin Truex Jr. in the Busch Series championship standings.  For the 13th time in 14 races, Busch was named the Raybestos Rookie of the Race, and now leads Paul Menard by 94 points (233-139) in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year competition.

Next up for Team No. 5 is a return visit to the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway for the 300-mile Busch Series event on Saturday night.

In the April event at Nashville, Busch was battling Clint Bowyer for the win with just a few laps remaining when Bowyer made contact with Busch, setting off an accident that collected a total of four cars.  Busch was credited with a sixth-place finish.

The June 12 event will air live on FX and MRN Radio beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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