By Kelly Crandall (DOVER, Del.) – Kyle Busch is still searching for his first career win in the Chase but it wasn’t teammate Matt Kenseth who kept it from him on Sunday in Dover.
Busch finished fifth in the AAA 400 after two back-to-back second place finishes to open the Chase. He led once for 30 laps but never had the Interstate Batteries Camry to challenge the dominant Jimmie Johnson. The finish however, put Busch’s average Chase finish to 3.0, yet it drops him to third in points.
“We were about a fifth to seventh place car much of the day and we ended up fifth. The Interstate Batteries Camry got what it could out of it,” Busch said. “Certainly, I wish we definitely could’ve gotten more. We probably could’ve if I could’ve got the outside lane on the final restart I probably could’ve finished third, but we didn’t get that.
“We had to fight through it and pass a couple cars the hard way and we ended up fifth. It’s certainly the finish that our car was today. It’s frustrating to be fifth, but yet you look at the grand scheme of things and it’s three straight top fives to start the Chase so not bad.”
Busch and Kenseth made themselves early championship favorites after Chicago and New Hampshire. Kenseth won both races but Busch could have take one of the two given certain circumstances. It’s a great way to start the Chase but crew chief Dave Rogers knows it won’t be enough.
“It says we’ve got a Chase contending team, but it’s one week at a time. We’ve got seven more to go,” he said on Sunday. “The first three were good, but we’ve got to back that up for seven more weeks and we’ve got to put this 18 car – this M&M’s, Interstate Batteries Camry – in Victory Lane here sooner or later.”
Which is what Kenseth had been doing and until Sunday the 18 team were the only ones capable of running with him. Some still believe it’s a three-man race for the title between Kenseth, Busch and Johnson, who won Sunday for the eighth time at Dover.
Kenseth started second and led twice for 36 laps but the handling of his Home Depot Toyota took him out of contention. He had to settle for a seventh place finish.
“When you look up, everybody that finished in front of you, it’s all cars that you’re racing for points,” the point leader said. “Overall, for how bad I felt like we struggled with the car, that was a decent finish.”
Two tires on the last pit stop didn’t help Kenseth, who left pit road third. Having run solidly in the top 10 all day with the likes of Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Busch, it looked as though he’d finish amongst them. But the call for tires as well as restarting on the inside lane, did him in.
He remains the point leader but now by only eight on Johnson. Fortunately, Kansas is the next stop for the NSCS and Kenseth won there earlier this season. Unfortunately, Dover is one of Busch and Kenseth’s better racetracks and after Sunday, not one to just put aside and move on.
Said Busch about the weekend and result, “It’s certainly appealing and you could be happy with it, but we’re a little disappointed at the same time. We felt like we wanted to come in here, we wanted to run better, we could run better here, we have before and just could never really get the feel that I was looking for the whole weekend with the front tires.”
Kenseth wasn’t ready to put it behind him either. “No, if we would have won I would say that, but, no, not really. I felt like it’s one of our best racetracks and you want to do better than seventh at one of your best tracks and now that all the guys you’re racing with beat you, so – overall, it was a solid day, but we wished for a little bit more.”
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