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NSCS: Engine Issues for Kyle Busch at Michigan Continue Up and Down Trend of 2016 Season

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BROOKLYN, Mich. – It’s been a month to forget for 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. After crashes at Charlotte and Dover resulted in finishes of 30th and 33rd, respectively, the slump continued last weekend with a 31st-place result at Pocono Raceway.

Busch came to the two-mile track in Brooklyn, Mich. with a series-high three victories and nine top-five finishes in 2016. After starting ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Busch would only complete 52 in the No. 18 M&Ms Red, White and Blue Toyota before his engine expired and shot flames out from under the car.

“At least I had a 30 lap warning that it was coming. It had been shaking pretty bad and going south for a while and it had been building its own heat,” Busch said after safely exiting the car.

“At least there was plenty of warning and I knew it was going to get hot in there and it certainly did once it let go and it was on fire.”

Busch’s 40th-place result was his fourth DNF in 15 races this season and marked the fourth consecutive finish outside the top-30 for the No. 18 team.

“It’s unfortunate, not just today, but man the last four races have been really, really bad. It’s a good thing we started off the season as good as we did with a lot of top-fives and we had three wins so it got us a good start and a good foundation, but we have to get this luck turned around and get going in the right direction and get ourselves back to where we feel we need to be.

“Our cars are fast – Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys have done a great job each and every week, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) power has been great, just unfortunate circumstances have been coming our way a lot lately.”

Sunday’s 400 miler in the Irish Hills of Michigan also marked the debut of updates to the rules package to further enhance the racing. The race at Michigan featured a spoiler that was shortened from 3.5 inches to 2.5 inches, a splitter that was reduced to two inches and a resized deck fin to match the spoiler.

Unfortunately for Busch, he didn’t have enough track time in race conditions to adequately asses the changes.

“Too early to tell, we were kind of premature. We were running single-file out there a little bit seventh or eighth or wherever we were. When we got back in traffic right there for that one lap of a restart, the motor was so bad and the car was bouncing off the race track so bad that I didn’t know what was going on. I wouldn’t give it a fair assessment.”

It’s definitely been an all or nothing season for the 31-year-old Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team.

“There’s nothing you can do to change it around, you’re not going to go to the luck store and buy any. We had a lot of good fortune go our way at the beginning part of the season I guess. We still had blown tires that hurt us, but we’re either top-four or we’re bottom four. There is no absolute in between for us.”

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About Brian Eberly

Brian Eberly (@beberly18) is a Certified Public Accountant and Manager of Field Accounting at a transportation company, but when he isn’t at the office you can most likely find him at a racetrack, watching a race on television, or following the action on social media. Eberly became interested in NASCAR in the nineties when Jeff Gordon was dominating the scene, and became hooked when he attended his first race with his dad in 1999 at Michigan International Speedway. Eberly has been writing about NASCAR since 2012 for various websites. An Illinois native and Northern Illinois University graduate, Eberly travels throughout the Midwest covering racing events in multiple series. When not following racing, he can be found on the golf course (usually trying to find his golf ball) and following the Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, Bulls, and of course the NIU Huskies.

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