Kyle Busch falls short of weekend sweep bid at Kentucky

Leave a comment

It was a great goal — while it lasted.

Kyle Busch came into Kentucky Speedway with a feeling he could potentially win all three races there — Thursday’s Camping World Truck Series, Friday’s Nationwide Series and Saturday’s Sprint Cup main event — this weekend.

He got off on the right foot by winning the Truck race (his fifth in as many starts this season and 40th out of 120 career starts in the series).

But a poor restart on older tires with five laps remaining in Friday’s NNS race ended Busch’s hope to continue the sweep on into Saturday’s race as Kevin Harvick passed him by en route to the win, and Brad Keselowski also passed Busch with two laps left, relegating Busch to a third-place finish — certainly not the finish he envisioned coming into the race.

Busch is the only driver in NASCAR history to ever pull off a three-race weekend sweep — the so-called “Triple” — having done so at Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2010.

But even though he came up short of making it two-thirds of the way through the weekend with back-to-back wins, Busch still has Saturday night’s Cup race to potentially rally back for at least two wins in the weekend.

And given how likely he is upset for failing to win Friday night’s race, an upset Busch makes for a more motivated Busch, which could mean he may very well wind up being unstoppable in Saturday’s Cup event.

As rock star Meatloaf sang in one of his biggest hits, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

That very possibly could be Kyle’s mantra Saturday.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.