Despite numerous adjustments by crew chief Eric Phillips and the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) crew to try and find the additional speed that Kyle Busch needed to win his fourth consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race, a sixth-place finish in the O’Reilly 250 was all the No. 18 Dollar General Toyota could muster at Kansas Speedway. Clint Bowyer led 124 of the race’s 167 laps en route to victory at his home-state track.
“The Dollar General Toyota was tight all race long and we never really found the speed we needed to contend for the win,” said Busch. “We’re not here to run fifth, so Eric and the guys made wholesale adjustments throughout the race trying to find something. We never really hit on anything — that’s all we had today.”
Busch started the 400th race in the history of the NCWTS from the 11th position on the grid. Despite battling a loose truck, he had made his way up to the third position when the team’s first scheduled pit occurred on lap 49. The KBM crew put four fresh tires on the No. 18 Dollar General Toyota, made an air pressure adjustment, filled it with fuel and returned their driver to the track scored in the 16th position.
The Las Vegas native communicated to Phillips that the truck remained tight despite the adjustment. When the third caution of the race occurred on lap 61, Phillips made the call for Busch to bring his Toyota down pit road again. The crew put on four fresh tires, raised the trackbar and filled the Dollar General Toyota with fuel.
The four-time winner in the NCWTS this season continued to run between the fifth and eighth positions as the race approached the halfway mark. When the fourth caution of the race occurred on lap 74, Phillips decided it was time to make a major adjustment and called his driver down pit road.
Once Busch was completely stopped in the pits, the crew jacked-up the No. 18 Dollar General Toyota and raised the trackbar located on the left side of the truck. The team put on a set of four fresh tires, filled the truck with fuel and returned Busch to the track scored in the 25th position.
Shortly after race restarted on lap 77, Busch had maneuvered his way back into the top 10. In the second half of the race, he continued to run between the fifth and tenth position. Despite a plethora of adjustments from the KBM crew that included removing spring rubbers, making wedge and air pressure adjustments and reinserting spring rubbers, the No. 18 Toyota never was able to advance back past the fifth position as the race proceeded toward its completion.
Busch battled rookie Joey Coulter side-by-side over the last 10 laps for the fifth position. On the final lap of the race, the rookie drove deep into Turn three forcing the veteran to back out of the throttle in order to avoid wrecking both trucks. The move allowed Coulter to edge Busch for the fifth position, ending KBM’s streak of 12 consecutive top-5 finishes. The top-10 finish was KBM’s 18th consecutive.
Johnny Sauter finished second followed by Todd Bodine, James Buescher and Coulter. Brendan Gaughan was seventh and Nelson Piquet Jr., Brad Sweet and Travis Kvapil rounded out the top 10.
Ten different trucks led at least one lap and seven cars were not running at the conclusion of the race. The race featured seven cautions for a total of 28 laps.
Brian Ickler will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra next Friday as the NCWTS heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the running of the WinStar World Casino 400k at 9:00 p.m. ET. Ickler will be making his first start of the 2011 season after collecting two top five and five top-10 finishes in seven NCWTS starts for KBM in 2010. The 25-year-old will be looking to expand KBM’s lead in the owners’ point standings, currently 48 points, over Kevin Harvick Inc.’s No. 2 truck.
Kyle Busch Motorsports PR