Kyle Busch’s Bristol woes continue in Food City 500

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Kyle Busch‘s recent bad luck at Bristol Motor Speedway reared its head again Monday in the postponed Food City 500.

Busch’s No. 18 Toyota was in two accidents, the first on Lap 210 while running in the high lane when he appeared to lose a right-side tire and smacked the wall, giving him light damage on the right side.

Goodyear said Busch’s tire problem was the result of a melted bead, but that it wasn’t heat related.

Busch had been running in the top 10 for most of the race before the accident occurred. He had finished 10th in Stage 1 and placed 19th in Stage 2.

Busch’s day then ended on Lap 383. Busch had fought back to seventh when the right-front tire once again blew, sending the No. 18 hard into the outside wall.

Goodyear said the second tire failure was also a bead problem and not heat related.

“I was the fastest one out there those last two runs picking cars off and driving from the back to the front after we lost our track position the first time,” Busch said. “We had our issues, and we were trying to march our way back up towards the front and get there and thought we were doing a good job of that and trying to be conservative with the tires because obviously they can’t make it through a full distance for us for some reason.

“I don’t know if it’s fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, but it seems like all the rest of our five JGR cars are fine.”

Busch placed 25th or worse in four of his previous five starts at Bristol. Tire problems in the April race last year ended his day in 38th, and mechanical problems in the August race resulted in a 39th-place finish.

Busch, a five-time winner at the half-mile track, addressed his recent Bristol problems on Friday.

“A lot of it has been changing conditions with the track and others of it has been just issues in general,” Busch said. “We found we had an issue with our car last spring where we were blowing right front tires and that was self-inflicted, not driver, but us as a team with what we did in practice and stuff kind of alluded to it. Then last fall we had a great car and that thing was fast and we ended up breaking a part underneath the back holding the rear-end in the car. That was a part failure.

“… It’s just been frustrating the last few times of coming here and not really having the speed in order to run up in the lead and lead a lot of laps like I used to. When I used to win here each and every time, I would lead 250, 350, 400 laps or something like that. We were pretty dominant force and that’s kind of gone away and it would be nice to get those days back in the 18 camp.”

Busch entered the Food City 500 seventh in points.

Jimmie Johnson: ‘I honestly welcome the challenge’ of playoff format

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No matter the playoff format that’s been thrown at Jimmie Johnson, his No. 48 team has bested them, earning seven Cup championships.

This is the first year that the elimination format has included the stage format in races and Johnson said on NBCSN’s “Countdown to Green” that “I honestly welcome the challenge” of it.

The challenge for Johnson Sunday at Kansas Speedway is to stay on the positive side of the cutoff line. He sits in the final transfer spot, seven points above Kyle Busch. Four drivers will be eliminated from contention following the race (3 p.m. ET on NBCN).

“I’m in a position where I have to win, I think, going forward,” Johnson said. “I’m going to regret not being at the front at the start of races to collect those first stage points or the second stage as often as we should have. I honestly welcome the challenge.”

Added Johnson: “This might not be our best year with this format, but give us a little time and we’ll sort it out.”

Watch the above video for the full interview, including Johnson talking about meting the family of a fan who was killed in a car accident.

 

Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in must-win scenario at Kansas

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Going into Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are likely to be among the four drivers eliminated from playoff contention.

Stenhouse is 22 points back from the final transfer spot and McMurray is 29 points back.

Both drivers talked with NASCAR America before the race (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) about being in a must-win scenario to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Watch the above video for the interviews.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Kevin Harvick. His first oval win since Kansas Speedway a year ago validates the team’s 1.5-mile speed in the playoffs.

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch. Mark it down, he wins and advances to the next round to continue his quest for a second title.

Daniel McFadin

Martin Truex Jr. keeps his foot on the throat of the competition and gets his sixth win of the year at a 1.5-mile track.

Jerry Bonkowski

Kyle Larson is starting 13th but expect him to get to the top five within the first 20-30 laps. He needs a strong run to give him momentum heading into the Round of 8 and he gets it Sunday.

Furniture Row Racing crew member dies of heart attack

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – James “Jim” Watson, a fabricator for Furniture Row Racing, died Saturday night after suffering a heart attack, the team stated Sunday morning. Watson was 55.

A native of Greenfield, Wisconsin, Watson had been a member of Furniture Row Racing since February. He worked for Roush Fenway Racing from 2006-15 and spent last season with HScott Motorsports. He was a long-time racer, competing in dirt late models and asphalt super late models throughout Southeast Wisconsin.

Watson was with the team this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

He is survived by wife Laurie and daughter Brittany.

“On behalf of Furniture Row Racing we extend our deepest sympathies to Jim’s family,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “He was an outstanding and talented member of our racing family, whose life was dedicated to racing since his early days as a race-car driver in Wisconsin. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim’s wife Laurie, daughter Brittany and to his entire family and friends. Our No. 77 and 78 teams will be racing with heavy hearts today.”