Kyle Busch had a strong enough car to lead 100 laps in Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but not enough to race for the victory in the closing laps of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race.
Ultimately, Busch ran fourth in the opening event in the Round of 8, but he retained a comfortable series lead. The 2015 champion has a 21-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr., Sunday’s runner-up, and Kevin Harvick, who finished 10th.
What’s more, Busch is 46 points ahead of his brother Kurt, who ran sixth on Sunday and is the first driver below the current cut line for the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That’s a comfortable margin – unless drivers in the bottom four continue to win races, as Joey Logano did on Sunday at the .526-mile short track.
“We just weren’t turning the center (of the corner),” said Busch, who started from the pole. “We tried to do everything we could to get it to rotate to the center of the corner and get the drive off, and every time we tried to help the drive off, we just made it tighter. And then we tried to come back on that adjustment, and then we just made it looser on exit.
“It’s like nothing we did was helping us. We went one way on our adjustments, which took us backwards. We went another backwards on adjustments which took us backwards, so it was just a matter of we had what we had.
“I thought the M&M’s Camry was faster than that, better than that yesterday in practice and stuff. We made improvements to it for qualifying, but it just didn’t hold serve when the rubber was going down and so that’s kind of where we just missed it today.”