Win Streak Broken with 28th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Date: July 14, 2012
Event: F.W. Webb 200 (Race 17 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Nationwide Series
Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.058-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 5th / 28th (DNF, completed 121 of 200 laps)
Winner: Brad Keselowski of Penske Racing (Dodge)

In his seventh career NASCAR Nationwide Series start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), Kyle Busch brought his growing team to the 1.058-mile flat oval on which he’s had much success. Hoping to notch his fourth consecutive Nationwide Series win on the track known as the ‘Magic Mile,’ Busch showed promise early in the weekend, posting fastest lap times on the speed chart and securing a fifth-place qualifying spot. Unfortunately, a mysterious mechanical issue with the car’s fuel system in the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry did not allow the team to showcase their abilities for the New England crowd. Busch and team spent too much time during the race in the garage and on pit road, trying to repair the hurt machine, and ultimately completed the event 79 laps down in the 28th position.

Track and air temperatures were unusually hot to start the 17th Nationwide Series event of the year. On the green flag start and within a few laps, Busch asked the crew for instruction over the radio on moving the lever for brake bias. Initial feedback from the Kyle Busch Motorsports owner-driver was out of a 10-scale, the car was a six, when describing a tight condition through the track turns.

Further dialogue over the radio confirmed what the crew feared from earlier practice sessions, there was still an issue in the car’s fuel line system. Busch described on lap 25, “I have no fuel pressure.” The No. 54 Monster Energy car limped around the short track until a yellow-caution flag appeared, giving the team a chance to inspect their Toyota. Experiencing similar problems during Friday’s practice runs, the crew had previously changed the fuel pump, thinking that was the issue. Now that the problem was appearing again, and knowing there was limited time to spend on pit road, crew chief Mike Beam instructed the team to quickly change the carburetor. While on pit road for longer than a normal stop, the driver also requested to take on four fresh tires and a full can of Sunoco fuel.

The repair time returned the No. 54 Monster Energy machine to the track, two laps down and in the 29th position. The team was hopeful this time the fix had been made, only to be disappointed when Busch confirmed on the radio there was a continued problem, and took his black car straight to the garage.

Determined to find the issue, Beam feverishly instructed his young team to start replacing fuel lines, thinking there may be an unseen leak. The crew spent 26 laps repairing the mysterious condition, hoping this time the fix would be permanent. Busch returned to the track in the 30th position, 28 laps down.

There were over 100 laps remaining in the 200-lap event and the team knew by returning to the field it could make up a few more spots, earning more points for a possible Owner’s Championship run at the end of the season. A yellow-flag period on lap 83 allowed Busch to visit pit road and take on fuel. The radio was quiet, but signs showed the fuel pressure incident to be calmed down for the time being. By lap 115, the No. 54 KBM Camry passed another injured car on the board, moving to 29th.

Another race caution would allow the team to act as normal for the first time in the race, when they pitted on lap 124 to refresh four tires and take on more fuel. Busch described his car, “won’t turn on the flat,” giving feedback to Beam and crew on the car’s handling.

On lap 134 of the race event, Busch picked up another spot to 28th, still 28 laps down however. The crew identified two more competitors who were off the racetrack and who Busch would pass on the scoring chart as he continued to race. Unfortunately the No. 54 car was posting faster lap times than the race leaders, teasing the KBM team of what could have been a successful run and possibly a win.

At lap 150, amongst further disappointment, Busch brought the car to pit road due to reappearing signs of a fuel pressure issue. Under a yellow-flag period and on pit road, the crew attempted to change the fuel pump once again, in a desperate attempt to keep the car functioning. “We can gain two more spots if we stay out,” described General Manager Rick Ren to his frustrated driver. The uncertainty of the issue, coupled with waning laps in the event, convinced the young driver he would park the car for the day.

A disappointed Busch exited the garage area while the final laps of the event were completed. Although he missed the opportunity to earn victory at NHMS for the fourth consecutive Nationwide Series race, he will look to a better day in his Sprint Cup Series No. 18 machine, starting on the pole. The No. 54 KBM crew will continue to research the failing fuel pressure issue and dissect the equipment before returning to compete at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway next Sunday. Kyle Busch will make his 10th start of the season behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.

With the NHMS finish, the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 54 NNS team dropped one position to ninth in the Series Owner’s Points Standings, 101 points out of first place, through 17 races completed.

Brad Keselowski won his 19th career Nationwide Series event and second Series win of 2012 in the Penske owned Dodge machine, with a late race pass over second-place finisher Kevin Harvick. Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top-five finishers.

There were four caution periods for 23 laps of the race along with seven lead changes across five drivers.

The next event on the NNS schedule is July 22 at the STP 300 from Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway, with the race television broadcast starting at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN and on the MRN radio broadcast at 2:45pm.

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