M&M’s Driver Leads 48 Laps But Loses Cylinder Just Past Halfway Point
Date: Sept. 23, 2012
Event: Sylvania 300 (Round 28 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.058-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 2nd/28th (Running, completed 298 of 300 laps)
Point Standing: 13th (831 points, 24 ahead of 14th)
Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
For the fourth time this season, Kyle Busch had another potential top-five finish go sour with an engine issue.
Busch, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), led 48 laps early in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 on Sunday. But while running second on lap 164, Busch radioed to crew chief Dave Rogers that his engine had gone sour. Forced to race the rest of the event on seven cylinders, all Busch could do was ride around and hope to nurse his engine to the finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. He eventually finished in 28th position, two laps down.
“That pretty much sums up our season,” Busch said. “We had another great M&M’s Camry, just up there in second behind Denny (Hamlin) and working on trying to make our racecar better. Then suddenly we were way down on power, and we must have lost a cylinder. All we could do is ride around and try to make it to the end of the race.”
After starting second, Las Vegas native Busch jumped to his first lead of the day on lap 46. He held the top spot until overtaken by teammate Hamlin on lap 94. Busch held the second position until lap 164, when his engine began to lose power. He had dropped to eighth when the caution waved on lap 179. Busch brought his M&M’s Camry to pit road so the team could take a look under the hood. But it was quickly assessed that the problems were inside the engine and could not be fixed on pit road. So all Busch could do was ride with the issue to the finish and hope the engine didn’t expire.
“I’m really proud of this M&M’s Toyota Camry race team,” said Rogers. “We’ve been bouncing back from adversity all year long. Kyle (Busch) did a great job. We completely changed our setup today – we did something totally different. We worked from old notes. It was a pretty good racecar out there. Kyle did a great job with it and stayed out in front. Unfortunately, we picked up a â€˜miss’ under the hood. Toyota does a great job for us – they’ll bring it back to the shop and figure it out and make it better.
“We don’t know what it is right now that caused it. It’s one of those deals where we knew that if we came behind the pit wall to try to fix it, we were just going to lose a bunch of laps and a bunch of positions. So we just stayed out there and rode it out and got the best finish we could. Tried to be smart and not affect the outcome of the race. We’ll get it figured out and be back next week.”
Busch’s JGR teammate Hamlin won the Sylvania 300. It was Hamlin’s 22nd career Sprint Cup victory, his series-high fifth of the season and his second victory at New Hampshire. The win also was the 100th Sprint Cup win for Joe Gibbs Racing in 21 seasons in NASCAR’s top series. Busch’s other JGR teammate Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota, finished eighth.
Jimmie Johnson finished 2.675 seconds behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot. Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Logano, Brian Vickers and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were four caution periods for 17 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 300-lap race.
Hamlin is representing JGR in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup and entered the second race of the 10-race Chase fourth in the standings. Hamlin gained one spot to third in points with 2,089 points, just seven points behind new Chase leader Johnson.
Busch maintained 13th in the standings with 831 points, 24 ahead of 14th-place Newman. Logano held his 18th position with 751 points, 80 points behind Busch in 13th. Since they are not Chase participants, Busch and Logano can finish no higher than 13th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the AAA 400 on Sept. 30 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.