Pit Road snafu derails Kyle Busch

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 13:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

AVONDALE, AZ – MARCH 13: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

AVONDALE, Ariz.— The early stages of Sunday’s Good Sam 500 had the look of a Kyle Busch victory, but a pit road miscue cost the pole winner dearly.

Busch led the first 74 laps and lost the top spot to Dale Earnhardt Jr. after a two-tire call to everyone else’s four on Lap 53. But on Lap 164 of 313, Busch overshot his pit stall, had to back up slightly and parked too close to the pit wall.

Cramped for space between the wall and the No. 18 Toyota, Busch’s jack man took much longer than usual to raise the left side of the car, and Busch fell to 18th for a restart on Lap 169.

Busch charged back to fourth-place at the finish but never threatened race winner Kevin Harvick after that pit stop.

“We had a really good car today and we ran up front for a bunch of the race,” Busch said. “I’m not sure if we could’ve beat the 4 (Harvick) or not, but given some different circumstances—maybe. But, overall, the car was good.

“Missed it just a little bit on the long runs, for sure. We just can’t quite keep up as good as those guys can on the long side of the run, so that’s kind of where we lost it today. I also screwed us up a little bit on pit road but we were at least able to overcome that.”

Though Busch posted his fourth straight top-four finish to start the season and shares the series lead with Harvick, he’s not thoroughly satisfied with his results so far.

“Yes and no,” Busch said. “You could be happy with top-fives, and you could be happy with running up front and doing those things. Those are the things you’re supposed to do.

“But, ultimately, we’ve got to get to Victory Lane. We’re close. We’ll see if we can hit one here on the west coast swing, maybe next week in California, and put ourselves in (the Chase).”

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