Kyle Busch’s rough day at Char­lotte puts him in sur­pris­ing points hole

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SCOTT HAMIL­TON NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

CON­CORD, N.C. — 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 fiveminute 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 run­nerup, 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.”

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