NASCAR & Auto Racing

Kyle Busch starts up front, but day goes south early and often

LOUDON, N.H. - There was a reason Kyle Busch worked so hard to gain the top seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

It was for days like these.

There was little that went Busch's way in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and by the end of the race he had been penalized by NASCAR, made multiple trips to pit road for repairs and involved in one wreck.

He ended up 34th and dropped from first to eighth in points, 74 behind Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, who are tied at the top. Were it not for his eight wins and the 80 bonus points Busch received for them, he would be even worse off than he already is in the hunt for his first championship.

Busch was none too interested in discussing his tough day and left the track without comment, climbing over part of an adjacent hauler to meet a waiting golf cart that whisked him away.

His trouble started early when a bolt holding the car's front sway bar in place came loose and sent Busch's No. 18 Toyota sliding all over the track. During a competition caution on Lap 36, Busch came down pit road for repairs, but in trying to come around a second time on pit road, Busch was penalized a lap by NASCAR for "pulling up to pit" - essentially passing cars under caution to reach pit road.

From there, his race only got worse. On Lap 83, Busch spun and recovered, but before he could drive off was hit hard by Jamie McMurray.

"He was real disappointed," said team owner Joe Gibbs, who met briefly with Busch immediately after the race. In a situation like that you don't talk very much and you let him spend some time by himself.

"We're so proud of him. We just got to find a way to battle back."

Busch's crew chief, Steve Addington, wasted no time trying to lift the spirits of his team.

"I told these guys, 'We weren't supposed to be here. This was supposed to be a year to get to know our driver and see where we stood.'

"But we came out and had a great year," he said.

"We're not giving up, trust me."