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Busch Finds Success and Disappointment at Dover

  • Sep 25, 2004

DOVER, Del.  (Sept. 25, 2004) – For a rookie driver making just his third start at the notoriously difficult Dover International Speedway, a top-10 finish is almost always cause for celebration.

Except, that is, when the driver’s team is locked in a championship battle with the team that ends up winning the race. In that situation, what would have otherwise been viewed as a very successful day is tempered with a little disappointment.

Such was the case for Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Team Lowe’s Racing Chevrolet, in Saturday’s 200-mile NASCAR Busch Series race at Dover.

While Busch’s ninth-place finish marked the 18th top-10 result of 2004 and the sixth top-10 in as many races for he and his Hendrick Motorsports team, Busch saw the margin grow between himself and points leader Martin Truex Jr., as Truex claimed the win.

Busch now trails by 152 points in the Busch Series championship standings with seven races remaining.

“It was a frustrating day,” Busch said. “We had a decent enough car where I thought we could have finished anywhere from maybe eighth to fifth.  We struggled a little bit and Lance (McGrew, crew chief) made some great changes.  The guys worked hard all day long and had some awesome pit stops.

“We just got really tight there at the end. We were still fast enough where we thought we could get at least a top-five but we just couldn’t catch and pass anybody.”

Starting the race from the fourth position, Busch made just 15 green-flag laps before he radioed his crew and told them his No. 5 Lowe’s/Shop-Vac Chevrolet was “bouncy” and had a tight-handling condition. The handling issue caused Busch to drop as far as 10th before the first caution flag of the event came out on Lap 75.

When Busch came to pit road during the caution period, his crew made a chassis adjustment and dropped the tire pressures to help the handling, sending the No. 5 Chevrolet out in ninth position for the Lap 79 restart.

Busch remained in the top-10 until Lap 106, when he came to pit road for fuel, tires and more chassis adjustments during the fourth caution period of the event.

Returning to the race in 15th, Busch worked his way back toward the top-10 during the long green-flag run that followed the Lap 110 restart. When race leader Kenny Wallace ran out of fuel with around 10 laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Busch moved back into the top-10. Another frontrunner, Greg Biffle, also ducked to pit road for fuel in the closing laps, moving Busch up to ninth before the checkered flag was displayed.

While Busch was frustrated about losing ground in the points battle, he assured reporters that he and his team are not ready to concede.

“These guys will never give up and neither will I,” Busch said. “We’ll just kind of keep digging at (Truex) and see what we can do.  We’re coming up to some race tracks that we feel like we can excel on such as Kansas and Lowe’s and Atlanta and Homestead.  We’ll see what we can do there.”

For the sixth race in a row and the 21st time in 27 races the season, Busch was the highest-finishing rookie. The top-10 performance expanded his lead over Paul Menard (321-179) in the running for Raybestos Rookie of the Year.

For the second time in the past four weeks, Busch and his No. 5 Team Lowe’s Racing crew now have a weekend off before the Busch Series returns to action at Kansas Speedway. The 300-mile event will air live on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. ET on TNT and MRN Radio.

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