Date: April 13, 2012
Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Race 6 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Nationwide Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 6th/ 30th (Over Heating, completed 187 of 200 laps)
Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Roush Racing (Ford)
In his 13th career NASCAR Nationwide Series start, Kurt Busch joined the No. 54 Monster Energy team for the first time this season at Texas Motor Speedway, looking for success in helping to build Kyle Busch Motorsports’ new program. Expectations were high after a sixth-place qualifying run however setup issues caused the team a variety of stress points to the car and ultimately influenced a blown engine ahead of race end, relegating the young team to a 30th-place finish.
Upon a windy evening at the Fort Worth, Tex. based track, the No. 54 Toyota team started the race from the sixth position and battled within the top-ten positions early in the 200-lap event. Feedback from Busch reinforced what the team had been addressing all weekend, a tight-handling race car. While the older Busch explained he was able to maneuver the entry and exit of turns, it was the center of the 1.5-mile oval’s turns that gave the past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion some hurdles.
As the crew finalized plans to alter tire-pressures when the opportunity came to bring their driver down pit road, the 33 year-old Busch exclaimed on the radio he was coming to pit road immediately due to a blown right-front tire. The Goodyear tire exhibited signs of extreme ‘beading’ which caused the decline, according to pit-road tire manufacturer representatives upon examination. The green flag stop put the No. 54 Toyota one lap down to the race leader, but within a few laps a caution occurred which allowed Busch to take the NASCAR waive around and rejoin the lead lap. When the race restarted, the Monster Energy Camry was scored in the 20th position.
Team crew chief Mike Beam and overhead track spotter Tony Hirschman encouraged Busch to “keep digging” as they watched the veteran racer work his way towards a top-15 spot. A second race caution period allowed the team to make its subsequent visit to pit road giving the crew another opportunity to tweak tire pressures and make a wedge adjustment to further assist Busch with his tight-handling Camry. Another race restart from that sequence and driving in the 18th position, Busch’s No. 54 car tangled slightly with the No. 44 car on the backstretch, and he communicated the possibility of damage to the race car. The crew chief and spotter confirmed to their driver that there was no damage seen on the car and it was okay to proceed.
With that third yellow-flag period completed and upon the next restart, the Monster Energy team was again running 18th, as the field passed the halfway point in the race. Radio communication from driver to team exhibited excitement as Busch relayed, “I’m coming guys. I’m coming.” Upon which Beam replied, “You are doing fine.” The crew watched Busch make his way to within the top-15 cars again, running as high as the 12th spot. The only complaint from the driver was that the car remained tight, even though they were executing their best run of the evening.
Reminiscent of the first race struggle, as Busch communicated the tight-handling condition was becoming worse, his next words relayed to the team were that another tire had failed and he quickly made his way down pit road. Again the crew members pulled off and examined a very badly shredded Good Year tire and returned the Toyota machine to the track in the 12th position. Busch was ‘digging’ once again to make his way towards the front of the field, when a freak power outage on the track’s backstretch caused the track lights to blow out, necessitating a power breaker reboot.
At lap 162, NASCAR halted race progress for the blown track lights and brought the race field onto pit road for a short red-flag caution period. During this time the team made a pit stop and once parked on pit road, team leader Beam was able to provide Busch with some much needed water as Busch was starting to feel dehydrated.
When the field went back to green-flag racing Busch worked the No. 54 back into the 11th position, although the car’s handling indicated that there was an issue. Final race lap feedback from Busch to the team described the car being, “sideways loose and motor is falling apart.” As the experienced driver pulled his struggling machine down pit road, the motor proceeded to fail. While the final yellow-flag caution waived and as the No. 54 Monster Energy car passed through the pit road area, there was no helping the expired machine. NASCAR halted Busch on the backstretch for a tow vehicle to retrieve the damaged car before fluids or other debris could be deposited onto the race surface. The team’s night was over.
Busch commented post race, “Despite the car issues the team battled tonight, I had fun and am happy to be part of this team. It was unfortunate to end the night the way we did. A sequence of events through the race led us to that point, starting with the first blown tire. But we’ll recuperate and try again in Richmond. This 54 Monster Energy team is a good and hard-working group and I look forward to racing with them again.”
The Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 NNS entry lost two spots in the Series Owner’s Point Standings, moving to 15th, 97 points out of first place through six races completed.
The victory for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the defending series champion’s second in six starts this season and the fourth of his career. Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon completed the top-five finishers. There were five caution periods for 33 laps of the race along with fourteen lead changes across seven drivers.
The next event on the NNS schedule is the NASCAR Nationwide Series 250 at the Richmond (VA.) International Raceway with the race television broadcast starting at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN2 and the radio broadcast on MRN at 7:15p.m. EST. Kurt Busch will make his second start of the season behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.
About Monster Beverage Corporation:
Based in Corona, California, Monster Energy refuses to acknowledge the traditional and the disingenuous. Monster always supports the scene and the sport. Whether it be motocross, off-road, NASCAR, MotoGP, BMX, surf, snowboard, ski, skateboard, or the rock and roll lifestyle, Monster is a brand that believes in authenticity and the core of what its sports, athletes and musicians symbolize. Much more than a drink, it’s a way of life lived by our athletes, sports, bands, believers and fans. See more about Monster Beverage Corporation – including all of its drinks – at www.monsterenergy.com and Facebook.com/MonsterEnergy.
About Mad Media:
Mad Media (www.madmedia.com) is San Diego based marketing and creative agency offering professional print, web, and film production. They specialize in producing culturally relevant brand messaging using professional athletes, musicians, and artists. Mad Media focuses on sports and cultures that they are passionate about, including skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, motocross, FMX, BMX, off-road racing, rally racing, Hip-Hop, Punk Rock and Mixed Martial Arts. Mad Media has produced over twenty major commercial and viral film projects this year for clients such as Subaru of America, DC Shoes, Monster Energy Drink, and Harley-Davidson. Mad Media has been executing immersive marketing campaigns since 1996.