Team Lowe's Wins at Kentucky
- Jun 19, 2004
SPARTA, Ky. (June 19, 2004) – In a span of 200 laps, Kyle Busch and his Team Lowe’s Racing crew went from the basement to the penthouse at Kentucky Speedway.
After wrecking his primary car in practice, Busch started from the rear of the field in Saturday’s 300-mile Busch Series race in a backup No. 5 Lowe’s/Gladiator Garageworks Chevrolet. With three laps remaining, he powered past Greg Biffle for the lead, giving his Hendrick Motorsports team its third win of 2004.
“This is all thanks to Lance McGrew, the crew chief, and everybody else that’s involved,” Busch said. “They built a race car pretty much from the ground up last night and today, and we had to do a motor change and everything else. I just can’t thank those guys enough.”
After qualifying second, Busch and his Hendrick Motorsports crew were fine-tuning the handling on their entry in final practice when Busch made what he described as “a rookie mistake.”
“I cut the motor off and was trying to get down to the apron to get out of the way of the cars coming behind me,” Busch said. “When I got down there, I just lost control and backed it into the wall. I was sick to my stomach because that car was so good.
“I was definitely confident that the team was going to get the backup exactly where it needed to be, but I was devastated that I wrecked such a good car. It was one of the weirdest things that’s ever happened to me on the race track.”
With the accident happening in final practice, Busch had no time to log any laps in his backup car. McGrew and his crew made an educated guess as to what setup to put under the car, and it was evident from the drop of the green flag they had gotten it right.
It took Busch just six laps to drive the Lowe’s Chevy into 25th position before moving into the top-20 by the time the second caution flag of the event came out for debris on Lap 21.
Busch continued to charge through the field, cracking the top-10 just 47 laps into the 200-lap event.
A caution flag on Lap 61 allowed Busch to bring his car to the attention of his pit crew. The team made wedge and track-bar adjustments to correct a loose-handling condition on Busch’s entry, sending him back out in seventh, two positions higher than when he entered pit road.
Busch stayed in the top-10 until he pitted during the fifth caution period of the event. He told McGrew the car had a tight-handling condition in the center of the turns, so the team made adjustments to improve the problem, sending the No. 5 Chevy back out in seventh for the Lap 123 restart.
Busch moved into the top-five around Lap 130, and remained there until the leaders began making green-flag pit stops on Lap 178. Busch stayed on the track to take over second position on Lap 181.
One lap later, good fortune smiled on Busch and the Team Lowe’s Racing crew when a caution flag was displayed for an accident involving Johnny Benson. The caution period allowed Busch to come in and get four tires, fuel and more adjustments for the dash to the end.
When the team looked at the leaderboard following the pit stop, they expected to see Busch as the race leader. There was some confusion when they saw that Greg Biffle, who had pitted earlier and was again on pit road when the caution came out, was shown as the leader.
In the end, it didn’t make a difference. Busch, on fresher tires, was able to reel Biffle in and pass him for the win.
“I didn’t know if he was on older tires or not,” Busch said. “I just saw how quickly he was coming back to me, and I knew that if I stepped on the gas a little bit harder a little bit sooner, I was probably going to be able to catch him.”
The finish is the No. 5 team’s eighth top-five finish and its 12th top-10 result of the 2004 season. Busch now trails Martin Truex Jr. by just 10 points in the Busch Series championship standings.
The No. 5 team now heads to the Milwaukee Mile, a track where Busch has never raced or even made practice laps. The 250-mile Busch Series event will air live from that facility on Saturday, June 26, at 9 p.m. ET on FX and MRN Radio.