NASCAR at Dover notebook: Ugly moment for Kurt Busch, Keselowski: ‘One of them racing deals’

DOVER — Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch have both tasted success during their racing careers at Dover International Speedway.

During the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy Series race on Sunday afternoon, the former Cup Series champions got an untimely taste of each other on the Monster Mile.

Busch, who conquered the Monster Mile in the 2011 fall race, lost control of his Ford while battling Kyle Larson for the lead on lap 66.

Busch slid up the race track and forced Keselowski’s Ford into the outside wall in the second turn, knocking him out of the race.

Keselowski didn’t point any fingers following the costly crash.

#41 Kurt Busch spins out after making contact with #2 Brad Keselowski after a restart as The 48th Annual AAA 400 Drive for Autism Race was held on Sunday June 4th at Dover International Speedway in Dover. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

“Yeah, one of them racing deals,” said Keselowski, who won the fall race at Dover during his 2012 championship season. “These cars rely so much on aerodynamics. We saw that early with guys being able to stay out on two tires even with a lot of tire wear.

“I don’t know if it was Kurt’s fault, just one of them racing deals. We line-up double-file and somebody got loose and just took us out. What a bummer.”

The #41 car of Kurt Busch come out of inspection before the race as The 48th Annual AAA 400 Drive for Autism Race was held on Sunday June 4th at Dover International Speedway in Dover.
(Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

Busch was able to continue in the race – briefly.

However, a left-rear tire on his car blew out on lap 96 and he slammed into the outside wall in the first turn, ending his day.

“I got loose on a restart,” Busch said, regarding the incident with Keselowski. “It’s my bad as a driver. My bad.

“We had good speed in our Ford and just couldn’t finish. You can’t make mistakes out here and we did.”

Keselowski was relegated to a 38th-place finish while Busch came in 37th.

Big crash cuts ending short

A massive multi-car collision that took place on the back straightaway just after the green flag waved on the overtime finish helped Jimmie Johnson seal the win

Johnson was well into the third corner when the caution flag waved as he coasted to the victory from there.

Chef Gordon Ramsey holds the checkered flag as The 48th Annual AAA 400 Drive for Autism Race was held on Sunday June 4th at Dover International Speedway in Dover.
Special to the Delaware State News / CHUCK SNYDER

Ty Dillon, whose older brother Austin scored his first-career win at Charlotte last weekend, was involved in the accident and finished 14th. Ty Dillon surprisingly led the race for 27 laps from lap 334 to 360.

Rookie Erik Jones, who ran consistently among the top 10 for much of the race, was also in the crash and finished 15th.

Danica Patrick was able to avoid the accident and finished 10th.

“It was a good day for us,” Patrick said. “We got a bit lucky with staying out at the right time and catching the yellow flags. It’s the stuff that hasn’t been happening for us all year and it’s just nice to catch some breaks.

“We weren’t the fastest car, not sure we were a top-10 car. A lot of times we have been a 10th-place car and weren’t able to get the finish we needed. I’ll take the lucky days anytime I can because there have been plenty of times where it went the other way.”

Kyle Busch ups-and-downs

Pole-sitter Kyle Busch ran into trouble early after Ryan Sieg brought out the day’s first caution flag by spinning out in the second turn on lap 17.

Busch and the other leaders opted to pit for tires and fuel, however, the lug nuts were not secured to his left-rear tire and it fell off.

It caused damage to the sheet metal on the left rear of Busch’s car as he was forced to pit again to get repairs after circling the track for a lap with only three tires.

He managed to rally and even ran among the top five before bringing home a 16th-place finish.

Monster bites Stenhouse Jr. twice

The outside wall in the fourth turn at the Monster Mile wasn’t very kind to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stenhouse, who recorded his first career Cup victory at Talladega Superspeedway last month, had tire issues early and slammed into the fourth-turn wall – twice.

The damage to the right side of his car from the second crash sent him to the garage area on lap 62 and out of the race, saddled with a last-place finish.

“Our Ford was fast and on the move,” Stenhouse said. “This track is tough. We saw a few tire issues (Saturday) after the first run.

“I’m not sure if I ran over something, we’ll have to take a look at it. I’m looking forward to coming back here in the fall. I feel like we have a good race car and happy with what we learned this weekend.”

Stenhouse took the lead during the day’s first caution period on lap 17 when he remained on the track while most of the other drivers pitted.

Unfortunately for him, the right-front tire blew out on his car while he was running third and he hit the fourth-turn wall on lap 48. He repeated the painful exercise on lap 62.

Mechanical issues burn Bowyer

Clint Bowyer was a driver on the move in the AAA 400, but mechanical issues put an early end to his uprising.

Bowyer started from the 22nd position but had worked his way up to the top five when he was forced into the garage area.

“We broke an oil tank,” said Bowyer, who has finished among the top 10 in 12 of his 23 career starts at Dover. “It’s kind of a freak deal, but these guys take so much pride in what they do in building these race cars.

“These guys worked their tails off all week. We were a force to be reckoned with. We were going to be fine doing exactly what we needed to do.”

Bowyer finished 31st after his team made repairs and he returned to the track several laps down.

Chastain, Sieg make first Cup starts

Ross Chastain and Ryan Sieg both had decent days in their Monster Energy Series debuts at Dover on Sunday.

Sieg started the AAA 400 34th while Chastain lined up 36th.

Sieg ran into trouble early when he spun his Toyota in the second turn on lap 17. He finished 26th.

Chastain stayed out of trouble during the day and was rewarded with a 20th-place finish.

Pre-race extravaganza

Gordon Ramsay, award-winning celebrity chef, served as the grand marshal of the AAA 400.

Dan Schafer, pastor of the Calvary Assembly of God in Heightstown, New Jersey, provided the pre-race prayer before recording artist Cassidy Daniels sang the national anthem as four A-10 Warthogs from the 104th Fighter Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, buzzed over the grandstands.

Ramsay got it all started when he gave the command for the drivers to “Start your engines!” at 1:08 p.m.

NASCAR legend Richard Petty then led the Monster Energy Series drivers onto the high banks of the one-mile concrete oval in a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird.

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

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