Kyle Busch collected in Talladega wreck, does not advance in Chase
Just as green flag pit stops were getting underway on Lap 103 of Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, an ill-timed bump draft from Aric Almirola turned the No. 83 Toyota of J.J. Yeley to trigger a multi-car wreck that involved Chase contender Kyle Busch.
Entering the day the highest of any Chase driver without a win, Busch’s title hopes took a huge hit when he was collected in the wreck on the backstretch.
Running for much of the day at the rear of the field, Busch was 37th at the time and was slowing down to avoid the incident ahead of him when his No. 18 Toyota was hit from behind by Austin Dillon and A.J. Allmendinger before being sent hard into the inside wall.
With damage to nearly every inch of the car, Busch immediately took the car behind the wall as the Joe Gibbs Racing crew members scrambled to make repairs and get their driver back in the race.
"We had rear end damage, we got hit from behind, forced us into somebody in the front," team owner Joe Gibbs said in the garage as the crew made repairs. "The whole front fascia is gone. Our guys have done a great job, but we’ve had to replace a lot of the front end."
After the incident, Busch fell outside the top eight of the Chase standings, making the possibility of advancing to the Eliminator 8 much more difficult. By the time he returned to the track following the repairs, which took 48 minutes to complete, only 37 laps remained in the race and he was 49 laps down.
In all, Yeley, Busch, Almirola, Dillon, Allmendinger, Alex Bowman, Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart were involved in the incident.
"We were just all starting to shuffle around there and getting ready to pit, and I think it was the 83 in front of me, and I think he might have been trying to check up to get to the bottom," said Almirola. "I just barely started to push him and it hooked his car and we all wrecked."
Once back on track, Busch’s fate was in his competition’s hands as they jockeyed for position on the track and the Chase standings changed nearly every lap.
When Brad Keselowski scored the victory and automatically advanced to the Eliminator 8, Busch finished the day 40th, not good enough to move on to the next round.
After the race, Busch’s crew chief Dave Rogers expressed the team’s disappointment, but commended his driver’s efforts.
"It’s disappointing," Rogers told FOXSports.com. "Everyone on this team has been executing really well, and I’m really proud of them, but something happened out of our control and took us out of the Chase. That’s part of this sport. That’s part of it. We all knew it coming into Talladega. We’re the unfortunate victims this time."
"Kyle is … I can’t praise him enough," said Rogers. "He has really stepped up to be a great leader of this race team in the Chase and we’ve had a couple things go against us — getting the nose knocked off at Loudon, today, and Kyle’s done a really good job of biting his lip and just backing the race team and letting us do our job. Kyle, I can’t say enough good about him. I’m really proud of him. It’s been a lot of fun working with him through this Chase, and we’re not done yet."
While the No. 18 team is now out of the championship battle, they remain focused and determined to end the year as best they can and race hard for wins in the final four races of the season
"The way it is, we can’t win the championship but we can still advance in points and we can work our way up to fifth, so we’re going to go to Martinsville working hard. We’re going to try to win all these races," said Rogers.
VIDEO: Kyle Busch involved in big wreck at Talladega