NASCAR at Dover notebook: Broken drive shaft fells Kyle Busch at the Monster Mile

Kyle Busch talks with team owner Joe Gibbs. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

DOVER — There was something amiss in the inner workings of Kyle Busch’s Toyota that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver was quick to diagnose early the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

Even though he knew something was wrong, Busch started the race from the fourth position and ran among the top five throughout most of the first 271 laps, establishing himself as one of the favorites for victory at the high-banked, one-mile oval.

However, that 271st circuit was when Busch’s driveshaft came exploding apart, prematurely ending his day.

“It just kept getting worse and worse the more the day was going,” Busch said. “When we started racing on the restarts it was really, really bad. I just tried to ride it out and see if we could make it to the end.

“At first I thought it was an engine problem, but that wasn’t the case. It was certainly the drive train. This certainly wasn’t a very popular of a failure for us but we have an idea (what went wrong). We’ve got to go back to the shop and try to diagnose and figure out why it was wrong and kind of go from there.”

Busch was in the hunt for his fourth win at Dover, which has been a good track for him.

The 32-year-old driver from Las Vegas, Nevada, has finished among the top-10 drivers 16 times in 27 career starts at the track.
Busch thought he was in for another good day at Dover Sunday.

“It was good,” Busch said. “I though it was a top-three car I felt like barring some different clean-air circumstances and different restart lines and stuff. I felt like I could get up there and race with (Kevin Harvick) and (Brad Keselowski).

“But as bad as that vibration kept getting during the race it was just too hard to handle. It finally blew the shifter knob off the shifter and even when it broke I just pushed the clutch in and I couldn’t even grab the shifter in order to get it knocked out of gear or anything like that because it was vibrating so badly. We’ll go on next week.”

Pole-sitter Larson forced to start from the back

Kyle Larson was on top of the world after he captured the pole position on Friday for Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.

His world, along with fellow drivers Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman, turned upside down when their race cars failed pre-race inspection on Sunday and they were forced to start from the rear of the field.

Larson’s No. 42 pole-winning Chevrolet and Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevy, which had qualified 15th, both failed pre-race in-spection three times.

Both teams also had their car chiefs ejected from the race – Aus-tin Konetski on Larson’s car and David Bryant on Bowman’s.

Larson managed to rally for a 10th-place finish while Bowman finished 23rd.

In addition, both Larson and Bowman’s teams will have to serve a 30-minute hold for the first practice next weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet was also forced to start from the back for having a non-compliant splitter.

Not much joy for LaJoie

Corey LaJoie had the distinction of finishing in last place in the 38-car field in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism race.

LaJoie brought out the second caution flag of the day after he blew the engine in his Chevrolet just 20 laps into the event.

Ragan gives VIP experience for 9-year-old

David Ragan provided a special day for nine-year-old E.J. Lloyd at the AAA 400 Drive for Autism race on Sunday.

E.J. Lloyd is a patient of the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia. He was diagnosed early in life with Erb’s Palsy,
which causes paralysis or injury to the nerves located in the neck/shoulder area that control the muscles of the arm.

After undergoing surgery, the youngster has some movement in his arm and is able to play sports with his friends.

Ragan gave him a VIP experience at Dover, as he got a ride in the pace car, went to the pre-race driver’s meeting, did the pre-race track ride-around with the driver and was on pit road for pre-race ceremonies before he went up to a suite to watch the race.

Dover partners up with Pennsylvania dirt track

Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell visited BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Pennsylvania, last month to help an-nounce a new partnership between Dover International Speed-way and the famed Pennsylvania dirt track.

The Justin Snyder Salute to the Troops, presented by Dover In-ternational Speedway, will be held on Sunday, Aug. 26. The event is part of the Arctic All-Star Circuit of Champions, a Sprint Car series.

BAPS Motor Speedway (formerly Susquehanna Speedway) is a 4/10-mile banked, dirt track that features Late Model, Sprint Car, Street Stock and Super Sportsman divisions.

Many racing legends have competed at BAPS through the years, including former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart and Dave Blaney.

The agreement between Dover International Speedway and BAPS Motor Speedway includes outreach to BAPS fans and special opportunities for BAPS attendees to attend NASCAR races at the Monster Mile.

“We have 27 percent of our fans coming from Pennsylvania, and many live in this area,” said Gary Camp, assistant vice president of marketing and communications at Dover International Speedway. “So many people in this region are passionate about racing and we hope to cultivate that to grow new NASCAR fans in this area.”

Bell said he’s excited about the new partnership.

“I grew up dirt racing, so that’s what I was focused on before NASCAR,” Bell said. “You can see how much the fans here in Pennsylvania care about dirt-track racing. I think it’s very im-portant for [NASCAR tracks and dirt tracks] to work together.”

Mark those calendars

The stars of NASCAR will return to the high banks of Dover In-ternational Speedway Oct. 5-7.

The fall race weekend will include the Monster Energy NAS-CAR Cup Series playoff race on Sunday, Oct. 7, the Xfinity Se-ries playoff race on Oct. 6 and the K&N Pro Series East race on Oct. 5.

In 2019, Dover’s two Monster Energy Series race dates will be Sunday, May 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6.

Next season will mark the Monster Mile’s 50th anniversary sea-son, dating to the first NASCAR event at the track on July 6, 1969, won by Richard Petty.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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