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Gordon, Kyle Busch out early

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Mar. 06, 2011

LAS VEGAS – Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch were the two biggest winners last week.

On Sunday, neither was on the track when Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway wound to a close.

Gordon, who ended a 66-race winless streak with a victory at Phoenix last weekend, blew a right-front tire and slammed into the Turn 4 wall on Lap 195.

The damage was extensive and beyond repair, leaving Gordon with a 36th-place finish. “We were up toward the front and better than I thought we were going to be based on (Saturday’s) practice, so I was proud of (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and the guys,” said Gordon, who is 19th in the standings.

“We started losing the handling on it there those last couple of runs and that put us back where we were (in the field).”

Busch’s runner-up finish at Phoenix handed him the points lead – for the first time since the 2008 season – as the series rolled into his hometown.

While Busch was fast in qualifying and practice, he blew his engine on Lap 97 as flames poured from underneath his No. 18 Toyota and smoke filled the driver compartment.

Busch drove his car right to the garage and ended the race with a 38th-place finish. It dropped him to 14th in the standings after three races.

“We’re trying to make the best horsepower we can to keep up with some other teams that we know have better horsepower than we do,” Busch said.

“The guys keep trying to find every ounce they can and, unfortunately, sometimes we push the limits. The pieces that break sometimes are smaller than your pinkie fingernail.”

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