Kyle Busch’s Grueling Day at Charlotte
By Matteo Marcheschi
Kyle Busch was running in second, just behind Kevin Harvick, when his day went wrong.
His weekend hadn’t been all that great to begin with, crashing in first practice and losing second practice due to rain. Busch wasn’t sure what to expect from his newly-repaired car entering the race.
Busch’s misfortune would continue in stage two of Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Charlotte is the only Cup Series track where Busch hasn’t won a points-paying Cup race. In turn 3, as Busch followed leader Kevin Harvick, Busch had the rear end of his car jump out from under him, sending him into the outside SAFER barrier. Busch fell a lap down and never recovered. Busch’s car never seemed to drive the same after sustaining damage from the initial incident, with a severe aero-loose condition plaguing the team the remainder of the day. Busch would spin twice more during the day, uncharacteristic for the highly-skilled Las Vegas driver. He also scraped the wall a few more times, forced to run a much-reduced speed just to keep his car under control.
The pain didn’t end after the checkered flag, either. After Busch parked his car on pit road, he laid down on the newly-installed synthetic turf off turn four and was immediately tended to by medical personnel. Busch had been breathing fumes, more specifically carbon monoxide, after the wreck damaged the car’s exhaust system. Add in a hot and humid day, which caused Busch to also suffer symptoms of heat stroke, and Busch was down for the count. He headed to the infield care center after laying on the ground for several minutes, and was able to walk to the ambulance. Busch will be ready for Talladega next Sunday.
His finish of 29th has not helped his points standing, though. Busch entered Charlotte second in points after winning two races in the round of 16, but is now all the way back in sixth, only 12 points above the cutoff to make the round of 8. With Talladega coming up, Busch could have used his playoff points as a cushion, but he’s already used them. This means that issues at Talladega could put him in a must-win situation at Martinsville in two weeks.