Kyle Busch’s hot start to the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season came to a tire-smoking halt at Kansas Speedway.
For the first time all year, Busch failed to finish inside the top 10, instead winding up 30th and three laps down after late-race contact forced him to pit road. Busch was running well inside the top 10 off a restart with less than 25 laps to go when he made a four-wide move going down the front stretch for what could have been the fourth position. But, squeezed in-between Erik Jones on the outside and Clint Bowyer on the inside, Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota exited Turn 1 with some notable left-rear tire rub.
Forced to pit twice for repairs under green, Busch lost his chance to possibly contend for the win or at least notch a decent finish. And, by failing to finish inside the top 10, Busch came up short in his bid to set a new single-season Cup Series mark: Entering the night, Busch had 11 straight top 10s, tying the 1990 record set by Morgan Shepherd.
The contact was too much to overcome after Busch had already rebounded from a pit road penalty. On Lap 221 he had been penalized for driving through too many pit stalls (more than three) and put to the tail of the field. Busch would have restarted with the race lead.
“Obviously a disappointing night with our M&M’s Red Nose Day Camry,” said Busch. “We thought we had a chance to win there, then had the pit road penalty and still had a shot. Someone lost their momentum in front of me and I tried to squeeze through two guys; we [suffered] some damage and had to come to pit road. Our race was essentially over at that point.”
While Busch still has the best average finish in the Cup Series (7.1) his lowly Kansas finish cost him the overall points lead: Joey Logano now tops the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points with 478 to Kyle Busch’s 469.