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ThatsRacin.com


All-Star almost: For the Busches, ‘A-minus’ burns

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, May. 19, 2013

Getting the details right matters in stock car racing.

Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch re-learned that lesson Saturday night during the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Busches took turns dominating the race’s first 80 laps, which were broken into four segments. So much so that Kurt won the first and fourth segments, Kyle the second and third. They also both led 29 laps, tied for most in the race.

But less-than-perfect pit stops after the fourth segment doomed both drivers, helping Jimmie Johnson win the event for a record fourth time when he ran away from the field on the fifth and final, 10-lap segment.

“We were one tick slow on our pit stop and one tick off on the chassis adjustment,” said Kurt Busch, who finished fifth in his No. 78 Chevy. “That was the difference. You have to be perfect to win this race. We weren’t. It was an A-minus overall performance.”

Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch had tied for the highest average finish through the first four segments (2.0), so they were the first two to enter pit road for the mandatory four-tire pit stop before the final segment (Kurt won a tiebreaker to be the first car in because of his higher finish in the fourth segment).

They were followed in by Kasey Kahne (4.8), Johnson (6.5) and Joey Logano (7.0).

But Johnson and Kahne were the first two drivers back onto the track, followed by Kyle Busch, Logano and Kurt Busch.

“The car got tight and was plowing during the final 10 laps,” said Kurt, the all-star race winner in 2010. “It just didn’t have the same handling as it did in the first four segments.”

Kyle Busch would finish third. He also knew that bit of imprecision on the final pit stop cost him and his No. 18 Toyota team.

“Ultimately it came down to pit road where my guys always prove their worth,” said Kyle. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best of stops and came out third and that was the race right there. You’ve got to be on the front row if you’re going to win this thing, and unfortunately there on the restart, (I got) side-drafted and sucked around and hit from behind and loose and everything else.

“I had to finally get straight and get everybody off me to be able to race, and once I could do that I could go forward.”

Kyle Busch has done just about everything but win the all-star race over the last three years. In addition to his third-place finish Saturday, he was fourth in 2012 and second in 2011.

“Just another missed opportunity here with the best car, with me behind the wheel and coming home without a win,” he said.

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14