Kyle Busch's sorry stretch of races continues at Atlanta
SEP 01, 2014 10:30a ET
Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch was able to score his first top-20 finish in five weeks Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but it was certainly nothing to write home about.
Busch desperately needed a solid outing Sunday night; especially coming off four consecutive finishes of 36th or worse -- including last week's DNF at Bristol Motor Speedway that culminated with a verbal confrontation with crew chief Dave Rogers over the radio.
Starting in the eighth spot for Sunday's Oral-B USA 500, Busch had an overall quiet night, aside from an early run in with Tony Stewart.
Yet that all changed with just two laps to go, when Busch drove hard into the corner right into the back bumper of Martin Truex Jr.'s No. 78 Chevrolet.
After Truex's car made contact with the outside wall, Busch remained in the throttle and continued to push the No. 78 down the track after the initial contact.
Truex, who also had a much-needed solid run going, would drop to 23rd at the finish, while Busch brought the No. 18 Toyota home in the 16th spot.
While Kasey Kahne was busy celebrating in Victory Lane, Truex approached Busch's car in the garage and had a few choice words with the driver of the No. 18. After speaking his mind with Busch, Truex then turned his attention to Dave Rogers, venting his frustration even further.
"I couldn't drive off the corners," Truex said after his post-race confrontation with the No. 18 team. "But we hung in there, fighting for every possible position until Kyle (Busch), for whatever reason, ran into the back of me, causing pretty good damage to our car. I passed him clean earlier and then he comes back and hits me from behind. It was totally uncalled for and hard to figure out why he did what he did.
"We were in the top-17 when that happened and had a chance of picking off a few more positions," he said. "Not sure why someone wants to go out and purposely wreck you when you're racing for 17th. Doesn't make any sense."
Already locked into the Chase thanks to a win at Auto Club Speedway back in March, Busch's season took a turn for the worse after scoring three runner-up finishes in four weeks at Kentucky Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After that impressive stretch of races, Busch would record two DNFs and fail to finish inside the top 35 in the next four races.
While many argue not having momentum does not necessarily lead to a poor Chase showing, this string of poor performance -- Sunday's race included -- shows Busch and the No. 18 team are not ready to contend for the championship.
This team has battled to overcome inconsistency throughout the year, finishing outside the top 15 in 12 of the 25 races so far, as well as a hotheaded driver behind the wheel.
The poor results have built frustrations and confrontations inside the team, which culminated last weekend at Bristol when Busch parked his car behind the wall and left the track, leaving the crew members to push the car from Turn 2 to the hauler in Turn 4.
Fighting engine issues, wrecks, and self-inflicted bad luck, the No. 18 team heads into the final race of before the Chase for the Sprint Cup with more questions than answers, and unfortunately for them, no real solution in sight.
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