Kyle Busch is having trouble making sense of it. As he made extremely clear Saturday night, finishing second doesn’t work in auto racing. Don’t even bother giving him that runner-up trophy — it will go in a cardboard box in the basement rather than on the mantle.
“Just another way to lose a race,” Busch said after finishing second to Regan Smith in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Second has become an all-too familiar feeling, and not a good one, for Busch. On Friday night at Homestead, he got shoved into the fence by Cale Gale in a bumping duel at the finish and lost by inches in the Camping World Truck Series event.
“I lost more times this year than I know how,” Busch said, summing up his racing season of discontent.
Busch, a veteran and successful Sprint Cup racer, was gracious — even though visibly disappointed — in defeat.
“A guy comes out with his new team and wins the race,” Busch said of Smith. “Good for him. Nothing seems to materialize for me. I don’t know how you can keep a job in this sport by finishing second. You need to get to Victory Lane.
“It has been well-documented this is the worst year of my career. I can’t seem to put it all together when it matters, and you have to in this sport or you’ll be shown the door.”
Don’t actually expect that to happen. Even Busch admitted he was looking toward the future.
“We’ll try again in 2013,” he said.
How can he turn things around? “I have to start living differently, I guess,” Busch concluded with a wry smile.
• Joe Gibbs Racing won its fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series owners championship, adding to victories accumulated from 2008 through 2010. The No. 18 car was driven by Joey Logano (13 races), Denny Hamlin (12), Michael McDowell (4), Ryan Truex (2), Drew Herring (1) and Mark Martin (1).
The team had seven wins, 22 top-fives and 28 top-10s.
READY TO RUMBLE
Everbody has weighed in on the crash and ensuing fight at Phoenix between the pit crews of Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, so why not NASCAR chairman Brian France?
“It’s not really that a fine line,” France said. “We have a stated approach that this is a contact sport. We expect contact, especially late in the race. But I always say there are limits. Drivers know what those limits are, and you can cross those limits, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday.”
That’s why NASCAR fined Gordon $100,000 and deducted 25 season points from him after Phoenix.
“It was very obvious and very easy for us to figure that out and for everybody to figure that out, and so we deal with it,” France said.
France then referred to Friday night’s truck race as Gale and Busch did some side-by-side metal grinding in the final seconds before the finish line. Gale triumphed in the bump-and-run and the race, winning by what amounts to a quick muscle twitch, 14 one-thousandths of a second.
Brad Keselowski, the easy-going, fast-talking, fast-driving 28-year-old, talked about his preparation for Sunday’s race, the Ford EcoBoost 400 and trying to win the season point championship.
“I don’t know,” he said of how he feels. “I’ve never had a championship night like this. I’m going to say I will sleep well, yeah. I’m going to eat a big meal and probably have a beer and fall easily to sleep. I sleep pretty well.”
Richard Petty Motorsports announced that drivers Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola will return next season.
Owner Richard Petty, when asked what convinced him to re-sign Almirola, said: “We’ve seen a little bit of improvement in him every race from the standpoint this is the first time he has ever been with a stable team. He’s been at some different places, but he was just thrown in and ran six months or something, so he’s never been stable.
“We’re the best we’ve ever been.”
Bill Van Smith