Kyle Busch appeared to have the best car for the first portion of Sunday’s race at New Hampshire, but damage and track position were his downfalls in contending for the win.
“It’s frustrating that you have fast cars and then you get stuck back in traffic, and you can’t do s*** with it,” said Busch after finishing eighth. “What are we supposed to do? You have a piece of damage; a little bit of damage [so] that you have a tire rub that you have to fix, [so] that you can’t drive back through the field – that’s stupid.”
Starting on the front row, Busch quickly took the lead from Brad Keselowski. He dominated the first stage, leading 63 of 75 laps and collecting his seventh stage win of the season, tying him for the most in the NASCAR Cup Series with Joey Logano.
The first damage that Busch encountered was near the end of Stage 2 when there was a tire rub on his No. 18 Toyota. Busch suspects he collided with Kyle Larson.
“We had a good car all day; just got into it on a restart, I guess with the 42, and that got us damage, and that got us behind the eight ball,” he said. “We would have been on strategy with where the 11 [Denny Hamlin] was the whole rest of the day, but we had to fix damage.”
Busch led a race-high 118 laps. But all those laps led came in the first two stages. In the final stage, Busch brought out the caution when he slapped the wall in Turn 1. Again his car needed repairs, and again he fell outside the top 10.
“I was just trying to catch the guy in front of me and throwing it down in the corners – that was the only time I could make time on people, was just throwing it off in there and making time on entry, and I was trying to get there and just couldn’t do it,” Busch said. “Over-slipped the entry, and it’s just marbles – it’s ice out there – that’s why everybody else crashed the whole rest of the weekend.
“Our car was fast, it was good. We could maneuver a little bit. The 12 was really good too, coming up through the field there with us. But you get damage just a little bit, you have to come down and fix it, and your strategy is off, your track position is off, and you can never get it back. So, this package is awesome.”
Busch leads the series with 17 top-10 finishes this season, and is now within three points of Logano for the overall point lead with six races left in the regular season.