Pole sitter Kyle Busch, who won the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway last November, had a much different experience Saturday.
Busch was penalized for speeding on pit road and then penalized an additional five laps for bumping Casey Mears during a 9-minute, 10-second red flag on Lap 100.
“I’m devastated,” said Busch, who wound up 36th. “We had a pole-winning car and were three times faster than everyone else in the field. . . . I’m harder on myself than anyone. I’m a competitor and I take this seriously. It’s just a devastating day.”
FROM BAD TO GOOD
Nextel Cup rookie Clint Bowyer had an interesting weekend. On Friday, he was involved in two crashes in the Busch race and was penalized for rough driving. Twenty-four hours later, he finished fifth in the Subway Fresh 500, his best race this season.
“The biggest thing (to learn) is that you can run with them,” said Bowyer, 26. “It’s a confidence thing. These guys can be bullies. I’ve just been patient, slowly creeping up and trying to stay consistent and not get in any trouble.”
FROM THE SENATE
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., served as the race’s grand marshal, and issued the command, “Gentlemen, start your engines” to get the Subway Fresh 500 going.
Prior to the race, McCain, at the forefront of baseball’s steroids issue, was asked if he would look into possible legislation against rough driving in NASCAR. “I think (NASCAR) has done a good job so far policing themselves,” McCain said. “This is a wonderful sport. I’d hate to see Congress screw it up.”
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., one of the Senate’s most knowledgable and fervent NASCAR fans, also attended the race.
“There’s nothing like the green flag coming down and the noise coming up and the cars blasting off into Turn 1,” said Kyl, who once worked at PIR in the 1960s as a race official. “I got a friend that says, ‘If you don’t get a tingle down your spine when that happens, you’re not an American.’ ”
PIR failed to sell out the race, falling a few reserved tickets short, track president Bryan R. Sperber said. Attendance was estimated at 104,000.
Nextel Cup drivers Tony Stewart (Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (Dodge) and Elliott Sadler (Ford) were selected to test tires for Goodyear Monday and Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Goodyear Tires product manager Rick Heinrich confirmed.