Busch loses ground in the playoff hunt after awful day in New Hampshire

Kyle Busch came to New Hampshire Motor Speedway hoping to turn things around after a rough stretch of races.

Instead things took a turn for the worse. And another. And another after that.

The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion’s weekend got off to an inauspicious start. Rain descended upon the Magic Mile on Saturday, leading NASCAR to call off Cup qualifying. That meant the lineup was set by the performance metric, relegating Busch to 30th to start the race.

That left him deep in the field in the early stages, and he didn’t have the pace to move forward. Busch was lapped just 40 laps into the race and struggled to advance from there, spending the bulk of the race outside the top 30.


If that had been the end of the story, it would have already been atypically abysmal for Busch. But things got even worse on lap 155. Busch was a lap down and racing inside of Noah Gragson, who was on the lead lap in 21st, when he got loose and drifted up into Gragson’s No. 10 Ford. Both drivers spun, with Busch’s No. 8 Chevrolet backing into the outside wall.



That would prove the be the first of three crashes on the day. Busch was caught up in a pair of incidents on either side of a Stage 3 rain delay. The first was a crash off the nose of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just as rain was arriving.

His Richard Childress Racing team then waited out the rain delay and prepared to salvage what they could from the day. But just as the race was preparing to resume in wet conditions, Busch’s car shot up the track and into the outside wall during the caution period.

“Just went straight,” Busch radioed to his team.

The bizarre incident was the final nail in the coffin. Busch’s day ended early in 35th. He elected to leave the track

Busch started his second season with Richard Childress Racing strong, leading the standings after two races and lingering in the provisional playoff grid through the spring months. But his season’s progressively ventured in the wrong direction over the past several weeks. The veteran had spun from fifth on the last lap at Sonoma Raceway, crashed at World Wide Technology Raceway and suffered a mechanical failure at Iowa Speedway entering Sunday’s race.

The net result was a drop in the championship standings. Busch came to New Hampshire down to 16th in the regular season standings, 31 points below the playoff cutline due to playoff-clinching wins from Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric.

He left the Magic Mile with a steeper hill to climb after one of the worst days of his Cup career.

Story originally appeared on Racer