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Drivers shaken by Kyle Busch's last lap crash in duel for the Daytona 400 win

  Kyle Busch (18) gets beaten and battered in the final yards of Saturday's race (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Tony Stewart beat himself up pretty badly for that frightening last lap crash that sent Kyle Busch and three other drivers to the infield hospital.
   Yes, it was 'just restrictor plate racing,' but it was yet another vicious crash at the finish, and there may be yet more recriminations about NASCAR's restrictor plate rules, though no one seems to have an answer for the situation that has plagued the sport for 20 years now.
   Stewart had one of the best cars in the three-hour race, led 86 of the 160 laps, and he was battling Busch and teammate Denny Hamlin (who led 63 laps) down the stretch, with Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards lurking.
   But Busch made a good move to the outside for the lead as they headed toward the final lap. Stewart dogged him the rest of the way, and they juked their way off the fourth turn the last lap, colliding just yards from the finish line.

    Crash trucks and ambulances at the end of the race (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Busch crashed hard, and that shook up Stewart, his former teammate: "Every replay I was watching Kyle, and Kasey Kahne running into him….." Stewart said quietly.
   "I just don't like it to end that way. That's not what it's about.
   "It's nobody's fault; it's just a result of the environment.
   "Racers hold the integrity of the sport in mind. And it was a good race all night long, with guys moving around, and we had one of the strongest cars, and we deserved to have a shot at it. But that doesn't mean you like the way it went.
    "I'll talk with Kyle sometime in the next few days. That is important to me, it is important to talk with him."
   Carl Edwards, finishing fourth, was also shaken by Busch's crash.
   "I was really concerned about Kyle….I saw the right side of his car lift off the ground, he hit the fence…Man, that's a hard hit," Edwards said.
    "But I guess it's exciting. The fans were all pumped up about it. But I was real nervous for him."
    Edwards was victim in a similar crashing finish in a battle for the win at Talladega a few weeks ago, getting airborne and into the catch fence.
    Following that crash drivers asked NASCAR to change things, change something, to keep the cars from getting airborne. However NASCAR has made no changes, and none appear in the works.
     "Man, that was a wild finish," Edwards said. "I saw Kyle turn right…the right-side tires lifted off the ground, and he hit the fence. And I thought 'Oh, man….'
    "I just yanked the wheel left and drove to the grass and hoped I didn't hit him.
     "But it was a crazy, crazy finish. I thought I wanted to be up there racing with those guys -- then I saw that, and I was just fine with where I was at."
   Complicating the race were nagging tire issues, though Goodyear insisted they saw nothing out of the ordinary here.
   Edwards tried to put a good spin on the tires: "Goodyear almost brought the perfect tire. It was really great last night (in Friday's Nationwide race); tonight it's coming apart a little bit -- a little bit too much heat.
   "But they were real close with the tire.
    "If they can get that right, to where the tires give up (speed over a run) like that, and we can start racing and slide-jobbing, that's fun.
    "I really had a good time…other than the tires blowing out, it was perfect."


Tony Stewart and crew: subdued in victory (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Last lap crash

I'd rather see Kyle Busch with a smashed up car than a smashed up trophy. I guess he's not as much of a rock star when the race ends with his car getting towed back to the garage.

Too owner-centric

Back in the day, I remember drivers like Dale Earnhardt would complain about something and NASCAR would fix it. Now NASCAR is ignoring the drivers and listening only to the car owners - seemingly only Hendrick. Every decision NASCAR has made in recent years is to make the racing easier for the owners: same car, same engine, no expression/emotion from drivers.
Let's get back to listening to the drivers. Fix the CoT. Get the cars closer to what Detroit is marketing. Make them look like production cars outside and under the hood: six-cyl. engines. We don't need 900 Hp. Establish parameters that would let teams build engines produce 400-500 Hp. No crate motors, either. Let the engine guys compete. Give them tires that will let them race. Let the chassis guys compete. Take away the splitter and the wing/spoiler. Go back to the days of mechanical grip. Let the drivers compete.

I agree to a point I think

I agree to a point I think they should just go back to the old car where the drivers and crew have more to work with

but once again nascar has

but once again nascar has painted itself into a corner -- it has no plan b; it has forced this car of tomorrow on everyone, at great expense....and with no backup plan, for what might happen if it was a flop. nascar should stick to calling balls and strikes and let car owners and car makers design the cars....you ought to hear the screams of frustration in the haulers from crews and crew chiefs who cant do a thing with this COT, except to spend horrendous amounts of money....


Both crashes (last night and Talledega) were triggered by blocking - an action totally within the control of the drivers. It was a stupid move - Busch still had a chance of running ahead of Stewart to the finish. Ahhh, stupid lasts forever - won't be the last.......

blocking = wrecking

I've said it before...

If drivers will hold their line when being blocked, sooner or later those that like to block will find that strategy not as appealing. Just ask Kyle Busch...oh wait, he's pouting and not talking again.

Tony Stewart may not have liked for the race to end that way, but when it comes right down to it, on the last lap especially, if a guy blocks you, you gotta drive through him.

Kyle Busch is a good driver...maybe the best since Earnhardt, Sr. But just because he's good doesn't mean that other guys should back down whenever he tries to block them. I was glad to see the blocking car end up turned around. After enough of these instances the drivers will figure out for themselves that if they block, they're gonna end up in the fence. Then maybe blocking becomes a thing of the past.

Busch Held His Line

Busch held his line on that last lap. There wasn't any blocking there. Even if there was, that justifies getting hammered head-on into the wall? A situation like with Elliott Sadler at Talladega in 2003 is a case of blocking; this wasn't.

Decklid, the last time NASCAR changed something because of driver lobbying was 2004, when they went back to the 5&5 rule because Rusty Wallace was furiously lobbying NASCAR to cut spoiler and airdam and go to soft tires - and it didn't work. Drivers are the last people to be taken seriously on rules issues because they are the most myopic of participants involved in the sport.

We don't need cars that are closer to what Detroit is marketing, we need real racecars like what we had in 2006 - long snout, flush nose/airdam, chopped roofline, shortish rear deck, blade spoiler - but with 7.5-inch rear spoilers with 1-inch wicker on top, low airdams, hardened noses for better push-drafting, lower rear bumpers for the same, plated engines (they had V6s in the early 1990s and they made the cars as fast as V8s did), and the roof blade to make the draft punch in. There was never such thing as mechaical grip - it was always about downforce. You're wrong, Decklid. 100% wrong.

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