Michael McDowell Battles Through Adversity At Charlotte

Michael McDowell & Daniel Suarez
Leavine Family Racing (LFR) and Michael McDowell fought adversity in the Bank of America 500 to finish 35th in their backyard.

The team had an extremely fast No. 95 Procore Chevrolet SS the entire weekend, and finished first practice 8th fastest. They topped that by finishing the first round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) qualifying 6th fastest on the leaderboard to move on to the second round. They went on to earn a 16th place starting position for the race on Sunday.

Saturday’s on-track activity was cancelled due to rain, but the team was confident in the set-up of their Procore Chevy. They continued with race setup until late Saturdayevening.

The start of the 500-mile race on Sunday began with McDowell struggling with a loose-handling car, but he was able to stay in the Top-20 until the competition caution on lap 36 where he received an adjustment to help the handling of the Procore Chevy.

McDowell restarted 16th on lap 41 before a caution came out just three laps later. He gained one spot on the restart, but dropped back due to a “wrecking loose” car. McDowell went on to finish the first stage in 24th.

McDowell began the second stage in 27th, but quickly made his way back into the Top-25 until a part failure sent him spinning. Fortunately, he did not make contact with the wall and was able to drive the car into the garage to diagnose the issue.

The team was able to fix the broken gear cooler, as mechanical issues do not warrant a time limit per NASCAR’s rulebook. McDowell returned to the race, but was 45 laps down.

McDowell continued to race with an exceptionally fast Procore Chevy, and ran times similar to the race leaders. The third stage consisted of long, green-flag runs where the team pitted for tires and fuel, but no major adjustments.

During one of the final cautions of the race, McDowell took the wave around and was able to gain a lap back. Though he finished the race 44 laps down, the team has still completed the most laps of any team and has only had one DNF during the 2017 MENCS season.

“We had a really fast Procore Chevy,” said McDowell. “Unfortunately, we had a gear problem that put us behind the wall for quite a few laps, but we were still extremely fast. It was just one of those days.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Broken Suspension Hurts Erik Jones’ Finish

Erik Jones
Erik Jones salved a 17th-place finish in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a day that began by going from bad to worse.

The right-rear shock mount of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota broke within the first 50 laps. Multiples stops to fix the issue under caution and then the start of a green-flag run put Jones down two laps to the leaders. He successfully battled throughout the rest of the race to get his laps back but the early issues hampered the team’s overall performance.

“It was just a frustrating day because, even after we fixed the car, we were so far back in the field that there wasn’t anything we could do to move forward for such a big part of the race,” said Jones. “The guys got the 5-hour ENERY Toyota running well but then it was just a battle to get back on the lead lap. I’m proud of all their effort because we never gave up. It’s been a tough couple of weeks but I know we all learned something today that will help down the road.”

The broken shock mount and multiple stops to remedy the situation left Jones with a 34th-place finish in Stage 1. During the pit stop under caution between stages, a heat shield was installed in the floor board under Jones’ feet after he radioed in to crew chief Chris Gayle how hot his feet were getting.

The second stage found Jones’ lap times competitive with the leaders but mired that deep in the field, he was able to pick up one lap on the leaders but only advance to 29th place by the end of the stage on Lap 190.

In the final stage, the lap times remained fast while the handling went from loose to tight. Gayle’s pit strategy during cautions as well as green-flag stops put the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota back on the lead lap with less than 60 laps remaining. Jones was 19th with 50 laps remaining and moved to 18th with 26 laps to go.

A caution with nine laps remaining allowed Jones to get fresh tires for the dash to the checkered. A subsequent caution put the race into overtime with the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing entry lined up on the outside of Row 7 for the green-white-checkered finish. Unfortunately, Jones was shuffled back to 17th by the time the checkered flag waved.

Jones remained 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 30 races. However, he closed the gap to 12 points to Clint Bowyer in 17th place.

Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. earned his sixth victory of the season. The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson.

The race had 10 cautions for 44 laps and 14 lead changes among eight drivers.

The next race is Oct. 15 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Danica Gets Involved In Yet Another Racing Wreck

Danica Patrick

Date: Oct. 8, 2017

Event: Bank of America 500 (Round 30 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Format: 334 laps, broken into three segments (90 laps/90 laps/154 laps)

Note: Race ended in overtime, going 3 laps past its scheduled 334-lap distance

Start/Finish: 12th/38th (Accident, completed 263 of 337 laps)

Point Standings: 28th (441 points)

 

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-90):

● Danica Patrick started 12th and finished 25th.

● The No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Ford Fusion team dropped to 18th on the initial start and continued to lose ground as Patrick battled handling issues during the stage.

● The team pitted at lap 37 for tires, fuel and chassis adjustments and the addition of tape to the grille. When the team pitted again between stages, they went back on the chassis changes and made air pressure adjustments in an effort to improve the car’s handling.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91-180):

● Started 21st and finished 23rd.

● The No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink team continued to make adjustments to the car in an effort to gain ground. Patrick noted improvement midway through the stage.

● The team pitted three times – at laps 117, 137 and 182. On each trip to pit road Patrick took four tires and fuel, and the team made wedge or air pressure adjustments to address handling issues.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 181-334):

● Started 22nd and finished 38th.

● Patrick was scored in the 22nd position when the team made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop at lap 225. Three laps later, she was forced to serve a pass-through penalty for the pit crew being over the wall too soon on the stop. As a result of the penalty, Patrick went two laps down to the leader and dropped as far back as 28th.

● At lap 266 Patrick went low in turn two to avoid the No. 38 car, but it spun down the track and collected the No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Ford. Patrick’s car sustained significant right-front damage that ended the team’s day.

● Patrick was evaluated and released from the infield care center following the incident.

 

Notes:              

● This was Patrick’s 11th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and her 184th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 44 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 40 drivers in the Bank of America 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Martin Truex Jr. won the Bank of America 500 to score his 13th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his sixth of the season and his second at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .911 of a second.

● Truex Jr. leads the championship standings with 3,106 points and has a 34-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Kyle Larson.

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Oct. 15 Alabama 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Did Not Fare Well At Charlotte

Brad Keselowski
Track:                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

Race:                   Bank of America 500

Date:                   October 8, 2017

 

No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 6th

Finish: 15th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 337/337

Laps Led: 0

Point Standings (behind leader): 10th (-64)

 

Recap: Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion team endured a tough opener to the Round of 12 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a 15th-place finish in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After a solid qualifying effort on Friday night, Keselowski started the 500-mile race from the sixth position. From the drop of the green flag the 2012 MENCS champion needed stability on corner entry and exit, something that would plague the team for the entire race. Following a pit stop under a NASCAR competition caution on lap 36, Keselowski fell back to his lowest running position of 22nd on the ensuing restart. He was able to rally a bit to finish 14th in the first, 90-lap stage. The second, 90-lap stage began with Keselowski in the 12th position after a pit stop for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment during the break. With the handling condition much the same, Keselowski was able to keep his Alliance Truck Parts Ford in the top 15 for the duration of the stage to grab a 13th-place finish in stage two. The final, 157-lap stage was much of the same regarding the handling of the No. 2 Ford. Crew chief Paul Wolfe made all possible adjustments to air pressure and wedge, but nothing seemed to cure the ills of the Ford. Despite the handling, Keselowski was able to turn some very fast laps at times and he entered the top 10 again following a green-flag pit stop on lap 225. With two caution periods at the end of the race, Keselowski was still in position to grab a solid finish. However, he was not able to hold his position over the waning laps as the race went into overtime and Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 15th position.

Quote: “It wasn’t the day we wanted for the Team Penske/Alliance Truck Parts Ford, so we’ve got two races left to go and we need to have two strong races. I was probably more frustrated with not being as fast as we wanted to be.  That makes the day a lot longer, but a little bit of heat, that’s what this sport is about.”

 

 

No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start: 28th

Finish: 26th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 335/337

Laps Led:  0

Point Standings:  18th

 

Recap:  Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion team entered Sunday afternoon’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway looking to improve upon their 28th place starting position. On the first run of the event, Logano ran in the bottom half of the top-20, battling a car that was free on corner entry. Complicating matters, when Logano moved to the track’s low line he found the handling to be moderately tight. When Logano attempted to run the track’s top two-lines, which had been treated with the PJ1 Track Bite compound, he found the handling of his car to be extremely loose. On the first pit stop at lap 36, crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make a wedge adjustment. The team gained seven positions on pit road, unfortunately, an issue with fueling brought the team back down pit road, dropping them to the 28th position. On the ensuing restart, Logano received significant damage to the right front of his Ford Fusion after a multi-vehicle incident on the backstretch led to contact with the left rear quarter of the No. 72. The Shell-Pennzoil team would begin a lengthy repair process spanning multiple pit stops. On the first run following the incident, Logano was forced into preservation mode as the water and oil temperatures quickly climbed above the limits set by Roush Yates Engines. The team would have to wait for another opportunity to continue repairs to improve the engines cooling ability. Over the next several caution flag periods, the team would continue making multiple pit stops, completing repairs to the nose of the Fusion. However, the high-speeds achieved at Charlotte Motor Speedway would continue to collapse the right front, slowing the lap times Logano was able to run considerably. Nevertheless, the Shell-Pennzoil crew continued to fight throughout the race, led by Gordon and Logano, to ultimately bring home a 26th place finish.

 

Quote  “Unfortunate day for our Shell-Pennzoil team to say the least. We were optimistic we’d be able to move forward from our 28th place starting position. It was a bummer to get the damage so early in the race because it really hurt our ability to move forward or really learn much today. We’ll move on to Talladega, the last two fall races there have been good for us and hopefully that’ll continue.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kevin Harvick Dominated The Bank Of America 500, But Finished Third

Kevin Harvick

Date: Oct. 8, 2017

Event: Bank of America 500 (Round 30 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (90 laps/90 laps/154 laps)

Start/Finish: 3rd/3rd (Running, completed 337 of 337 laps)

Point Standing: 3rd with 3,069 points, 26 points ahead of ninth place with two races to go before the Round of 8

Note: Race ended in overtime, going three laps past its scheduled 334-lap distance

 

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota) in overtime

Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-90):

● Kevin Harvick started third, finished first, earned 10 bonus points and one playoff point.

● The Jimmy John’s Ford challenged for the lead in the early going.

 The No. 4 Ford came to pit road under the competition caution on lap 35 for four tires and fuel.

● Harvick raced to the lead on lap 52 following a lap-43 caution, where he elected to stay out while running second.

● The No. 4 team pitted at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91-180):

● Started third, finished first, earned 10 bonus points and one playoff point.

 Harvick came to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 118 and took the lead on the lap-120 restart.

● The No. 4 team pitted at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment and won the race off pit road.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 181-334):

● Started first, finished third.

● Harvick surrendered the lead on lap 225 to pit under green-flag conditions for four tires and fuel.

 The Jimmy John’s Ford was too loose on exit late in the run as the team worked to adjust to changing track conditions.

● The No. 4 Ford came to pit road under caution on lap 267 for four tires, fuel and adjustments aimed to regain rear grip.

● Harvick came to pit road under caution on lap 280 for four tires, fuel and small adjustments and came out in the second position.

● He came to pit road under caution on lap 327 for tires but fell to the sixth position following the pit stop.

● The team restarted sixth on lap 328 and raced to fourth before another quick caution on lap 331.

● Harvick stayed out under caution, restarting fourth for the overtime attempt and gaining a position in the closing laps.

 

Notes:

● Harvick scored his 10th top-five and 18th top-10 finish of 2017.

● This was Harvick’s eighth top-five and 16th top-10 in 34 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Charlotte.

● Harvick finished first in both stages to collect the maximum amount of bonus points (20) and two playoff points.

● Harvick led four times for a race-high 149 laps to bring his laps-led total at Charlotte to 528.

● With his laps-led tally from the Bank of America 500, Harvick surpassed 11,000 laps led in his NASCAR Cup Series career. He is the 17th Cup Series driver to lead 11,000 or more laps and one of only four active drivers to accomplish this feat, joining Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 44 laps.

● Only 24 of the 40 drivers in the Bank of America 500 finished on the lead lap.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“That’s about where we were going to run, second or third. We just kind of lost a little bit of the track there as the VHT started to wear off in the second half of the race. But they did a great job all day. For the most part, we had good stops all day – just the timing of the bad one came at the end, but, for the most part, they did a great job. Everybody in the field had a bad stop at some point today, so it was a good day for our Jimmy John’s/Busch Ford, and everybody is doing a good job with the speed of the cars.”

 

Playoff Standings (with two races to go before the Round of 8):

1.   Martin Truex Jr. (3,106 points) 1 win

2.   Kyle Larson (3,072 points, -34) +29 points

3.   Kevin Harvick (3,069 points, -37) +26 points

4.   Chase Elliott (3,059 points, -47) +16 points

5.   Denny Hamlin (3,056 points, -50) +13 points

6.   Kyle Busch (3,055 points, -51) +12 points

7.   Jimmie Johnson (3,051 points, -55) +8 points

8.   Jamie McMurray (3,044 points, -62) +1 point

9.   Matt Kenseth (3,043 points, -63) -1 point

10. Brad Keselowski (3,042 points, -64) -2 points

11. Ryan Blaney (3,039 points, -67) -5 points

12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3,034 points, -72) -10 points

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

There Was No Joy At Charlotte For Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer

Date: Oct. 8, 2017

Event: Bank of America 500 (Round 30 of 36)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (90 laps/90 laps/154 laps)

Note:  Race ended in overtime, going three laps past its scheduled 334-lap distance

Start/Finish: 5th/27th (Running, completed 335 of 337 laps)

Point Standing: 17th with 760 points

 

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner:  Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-90):

● Clint Bowyer started fifth, finished 38th.

● “The front end isn’t happy at all,” he told the crew at the lap-30 mark after fading to ninth.

● On lap 43 Ryan Newman drifted into the No. 14, forcing Bowyer into the turn-two wall.

● The No. 14 dropped to 31st as Bowyer pitted for major repairs, but he remained on the lead lap.

● Tire issues forced Bowyer to pit under green on lap 89, dropping him two laps behind the leader in 38th.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91-180):

● Started 38th and finished 29th.

● Crew continued to make repairs before the beginning of the stage.

● Took the wave-around on lap 139 and regained one of the two laps lost to the leader.

● Returned to two laps down when passed by the leader in the closing laps of the stage.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 181-334):

● Started 29th, finished 27th.

● Bowyer fell three laps down during the stage but regained a lap as the race wound down.

 

Notes:

● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 44 laps.

● Twenty-four of the 40 drivers in the Bank of America 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Martin Truex Jr. won the Bank of America 500 to score his 13th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading sixth of the season and his second at Charlotte. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .911 of a second.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“That was a pretty joyless day. We had a lot of damage early, so it seemed like we were making repairs on the car and playing catch-up pretty much from the start.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Alabama 500 on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Pit Road Miscues Cost Johnson Valuable Points

Jimmie Johnson
After running seventh in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, seven-time Monster Energy NSCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is in a precarious position heading to the second race in the Round of 12 at Talladega Superspeedway, a track he doesn’t relish.

Johnson had worked his way into the top five before a snafu on pit road dropped him to 16th for a restart on Lap 284 of 337. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet had to wait several extra seconds while the lug nuts on the left front tire were tightened after the car had started to leave the pit box.

“We worked our way up to fourth and then had a little miscue on pit road and restarted 16th or something and got back up to seventh,” Johnson said. “Decent progress. The car was not easy to drive and not fun to drive, but my conditions were a lot better than the other guys, and I could work my way back up through there.”

Nevertheless, Johnson is seventh in the series standings and a mere eight points ahead of ninth-place Matt Kenseth facing the uncertainty and potential peril of a restrictor-plate race.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kevin Harvick Dominates At Charlotte, But Finishes Third

Kevin Harvick
For the first half of Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick looked unbeatable. Wresting the lead from Chase Elliott after a restart on Lap 52, Harvick swept both the first and second stages of the first race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Round of 12—his first stage wins since he swept both the first and second stages on Mar. 5 at Atlanta.

But late in the race, when the traction compound applied to the track began to lose some of its bite, Harvick couldn’t run his preferred line as effectively and finished third behind winner Martin Truex Jr. and Elliott. A slow stop near the end of the race—on Lap 327 of 337—also proved costly, to the tune of four positions.

“That’s about where we were going to run, second or third,” Harvick said. “We just kind of lost a little bit of the track there as the VHT (traction compound) started to wear off in the second half of the race.”

From a restart on Lap 284 to a caution on Lap 325, Harvick chased Truex relentlessly, closing up to his bumper in Turn 3 roughly midway through the run. But Harvick couldn’t pass the eventual race winner.

“I would get close, and then I would get loose, and as the day went I just got looser on the entrance to the corners,” said Harvick, who led a race-high 149 laps. “The car started bouncing really bad and started losing grip as the VHT went away and kind of lost what I had at the beginning of the race – to arc it into the corner and do all the things I needed to do to get through the middle of the corner and be in the throttle.

“I knew where I was running was kind of questionable as to how long it would last, and the entry was the first part that gave up for me, and I just had to be really cautious getting in there. that’s why I lost my speed from the first half of the race.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Young Money Finishes 10th But He Raced Much Better

Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson scored a top-10 in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet left the first race in the Round of 12 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff knowing he should have done better with one of the fastest cars on the track.

Larson ran in the top five early on but missed his pit stall on the first pass down pit road, requiring a return trip and a resulting loss of track position. He recovered and climbed back toward the front.

Larson subsequently led Laps 268 through 279, but he lost 10 spots on pit road when his rear tire carrier tripped over the hose to an air gun during a stop under caution on Lap 327, and the tire changer had difficulty removing the lugs from the left rear.

A pair of less-than-stellar restarts late in the race—not to mention contact from Kurt Busch’s spinning car on Lap 335—relegated Larson to a 10th-place result that could and should have been better.

“I felt like I had a car to win,” Larson said. “I made a mistake on pit road early. We rebounded from that. And then we had a costly mistake late and somewhat rebounded; but then those last two restarts didn’t go my way…

“Disappointing, but we fought hard.”

Larson enters next Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway second in the series standings, but he’s 34 points behind points leader and Charlotte race winner Martin Truex Jr.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Digs Himself A Hole After Charlotte

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch didn’t stagger, nor did he stumble as he emerged from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Infield Care Center on Sunday. Still he gingerly made his way toward a golf cart while he delicately slipped a pair of dark sunglasses across an ashen face.

Busch spent nearly an hour in the clinic following the Bank of America 500, receiving fluids and other treatment for the effects of a muggy day that was masked by overcast skies. Medical personnel attended to him shortly after he exited his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry following a 29th-place finish.

But bigger than that 29th-place finish is the 0-for-28 collar he’ll now wear at least until next May, that being his record in official races at Charlotte. And in the short term an even more significant total is 12, as in the dozen points that separate him from the cutline that will slice four drivers from the playoff field to eight in two weeks after the series races at Kansas.

More fun with numbers: His sticky day at Charlotte started with him second in points –– it ended with him sixth.

“It stinks to give up points,” Busch said. “We came in here thinking we had a shot to run in the top 10 and we did. We just threw that … I threw it away. So we’re still above the cutline, but we don’t have that cushion that we’d like to have. You can go into Talladega (next week), crash out early and be in the back of the pack and not finish well and be coming from behind in Kansas.”

The idea of having to press over the next two weeks didn’t seem necessary when things began on Sunday.

Busch was in second place when he hit the Turn 3 wall on Lap 136, suffering damage to his right rear quarterpanel. His team had the car back out before the five-minute clock expired, yet the lost time was too much to overcome. Indeed his car was never competitive after that, with his No. 18 Toyota falling behind by six laps while battling random slips into the wall.

To compound matters, the effects of a humid day began to take their toll on the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. And a suffocating environment was exacerbated by crushed panels on his car that permitted noxious fumes into the cockpit.

Busch sprawled on the infield grass for several minutes after the race before he slowly stood, shed his firesuit and boarded an ambulance that carried him to the medical center.

“They said my CO was in the double digits, so obviously fighting some of that, too,” Busch said. “But, overall, it was just the hottest I’ve been in the car. I didn’t feel sick from the CO or anything like that. I just felt heat stroke and I’ve had that before. Living out in Vegas, you have that a few times when you’re playing outside in the summer as a kid. I knew what it was, I knew what it felt like, but the only way to do it was to get out and cool down.”

Sunday was the 11th time that Busch, who started fourth, finished 20th or worse at Charlotte. Three times he’s been a runner-up, including the Coca-Cola 600 in May. He has 16 top-10 showings and has finished in the top-five 11 times.

Yet, again, he remains winless.

“So far he hasn’t (had good luck at Charlotte),” Gibbs told reporters along pit road. “We hope to climb out that hole someday.”

Talladega looms out of the front windsheld!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!