The Ugly: Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch’s attitude has often been described as less than attractive; however, this article is referring to last weekend's showing of the No. 18 team.
When Busch is on, he seems unbeatable; however, when he is not, he is nothing short of dreadful. Busch and the No. 18 team brought a fast car to New Hampshire but couldn’t keep her in one piece.
Early on, they struggled with a loose sway-bar. The sway-bar is a component of the suspension system. The left and right wheels are linked together by arms connected to a torsion spring. The sway bar increases the car's ability to resist rolling in the turns.
Kyle keeping the car on the track was beautiful, but his team’s call to enter pit row early for extra time to fix the sway bar was ugly.
That call led to two penalties on the team. It is decisions like that which should have Kyle Busch fans concerned. Yes, they needed to fix the sway bar, but putting your driver down two laps because of penalties is unforgivable. Busch finding himself in the wall just seemed to go with the disaster the No. 18 team dealt with all day.
Is the No. 18 team feeling too confident from the bonus points they bought to the Chase? I would say most of the blame for New Hampshire falls on the team rather than Kyle, but what does that showing say for the rest of the Chase?
Kyle Busch has always been a hard one to call, but I don’t see him holding the Cup this year. Will he be close? Absolutely.
The Bad: Tony Stewart
If Stewart were a superhero, his nemesis would be named Pit Row. Early on, Stewart had to give up second position due to damage caused by a Pit Row collision with John Sauter.
His team worked fast and was able to keep him on the lead lap. However, later Stewart would slap his team in the face, going down a lap by exiting Pit Row too fast.
Stewart would be the lucky dog on Lap 221; however, he didn’t let teammate Denny Hamlin line up for the restart, causing damage “indirectly” to Hamlin’s tires. Stewart would be able to race his way up to eighth place.
Stewart has been a slow burn this season. He is hungry, and I think we will see some great racing out of him; however, he needs to settle down and stop making rookie mistakes if he wants a shot at the top.
The Good: Denny Hamlin
Hamlin has the one thing Busch and Stewart need: consistency. Hamlin has finished third in the last two races before New Hampshire. He was in the top five for most of the first half of New Hampshire. As a matter of fact, he hung around third plenty.
However, the No. 11 team did seem to have some fuel call issues, but overall, without the above mentioned restart issue, I think we would have seen a higher finish for Hamlin.
Yet, it was a good call to bring Hamlin in to check the tire; if it had blown, they could have been looking at a fourth-place finish rather than ninth.
Hamlin and the No. 11 team have really come together at the end of the season. Look to Hamlin to become the Cinderella story of Joe Gibbs Racing.