Kyle Busch to start at rear at Road America

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — With Kyle Busch’s luck lately, it’s not surprising that misfortune struck again Saturday.

Busch will start Sunday’s Cup race at Road America from the back of the field after an engine change. 

The team made the change after seeing an issue with RPMs on a downshift during Saturday’s qualifying session on the 4.048-mile road course. 

This comes after woes at Nashville and Sonoma the past two races.

Busch was second during the final caution last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway when trouble struck. While leader Chase Elliott stayed out — and went on to win — Busch pitted. 

Ten cars stayed out. Busch was the first car off pit road after taking two tires but restarted 12th. He got blocked on the restart and fell back. On the last lap, he rode up against the wall and fell back to 21st. 

“Car didn’t turn very good on two tires and I got into the wall,” Busch said Saturday of the finish at Nashville. “When I was up there, it was over with and just tried to get back to the start/finish line as fast as I could.”

Busch and teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were running second through fourth at the time of the final caution at Nashville. 

A miscommunication brought Hamlin to pit road. Truex was told to stay out if he could restart on the front row, but he mistakingly pitted. Busch said Saturday that his team had no such issues. He was called to pit road and did as told.

“There’s a lot to talk about and discuss and try to improve on with how we get into those situations every time and screw it up,” Busch said. “How we fix that now is what we try to figure out going forward.

“I think discussions are still ongoing. More help in the war room, I would say, would be No. 1.”

Busch’s reference is to where engineers work at the shop during races. They provide additional information to the team at the track and help with pit calls. 

The Nashville finish overshadowed a race where the Gibbs cars were strong. Busch led 54 laps. 

“We all led a lot of laps, but there at the end, (Elliott) came out of nowhere once the lights turned on,” Busch said. “They were super fast. They weren’t near that fast and competitive in the daytime.

“How they improved that much, either A, through the race, or their car just took to the racetrack is something that we all really need to look at and study and figure out on what we can do better with our cars.”

The race before Nashville was Sonoma and that proved miserable for all the Toyota teams. No Toyota finished in the top 15. Busch placed 30th there. 

“This place is similar to Sonoma,” Busch said. “You do have high speeds (at Road America), but you do have slow accelerations and that’s where you burn the tires off is accelerating out of the turns. Trying to keep the tires on it is going to be important.”