After getting a reprieve from NASCAR, Kyle Busch's good fortune quickly disappeared after he was caught in a crash just laps after he had a pit road penalty rescinded during Saturday night's race at Richmond.
When the caution flag flew for oil on the track from Travis Kvapil's blown engine on lap 309, the yellow presented a dilemma for many cars on the lead lap. It had been just 11 laps since the previous caution (for Kvapil hitting the wall), and the entire field had been to pit road then. Do you stay out and gain track position or do you come into the pits for more fresh tires?
Busch made the decision to come to pit road, and in an attempt to not show the team's choice too early, Busch made a late dive to pit road. A dive that initially was viewed as too late by NASCAR officials. That meant instead of restarting sixth, Busch would restart in 26th, the last car on the lead lap.
The entrance to pit road at the 3/4 mile oval is on the apron of turn four, and the close proximity means that in lieu of a cone demarcating the start of pit road, there's an orange box at the corner where the pit road timing line meets the banking. At all tracks with a commitment cone, drivers must drive to the inside of the cone to get to pit road. Any contact with the cone is a penalty. That's not the case with the orange box at Richmond.
At Richmond, all drivers must do is have their two left side tires on or inside the orange box. Busch did that, but just by a mere inch or two. After extending the caution flag to look at the freeze frame clips from the cameras at the entrance to pit road, NASCAR took the rare step of reversing its call and gave Busch the sixth spot in line back.
That ultimately didn't work out well at all for Busch. Restarting on the outside line, Busch got bottled up on the restart and fell outside the top 10. More importantly, it put him behind Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson when Stewart got loose entering turn one making a pass on the inside of Johnson and the two drivers spun around.
As Johnson spun to the inside, Busch dove to the apron but ran out of room, running square into the right front fender of Johnson's car. His chances for the win had vanished just nine laps after getting his spot back in line.
To make matters worse, just 11 laps after that, Busch sustained more damage slowing down behind a crash involving Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. After extensive repairs on pit road, Busch briefly went a lap down late in the race before getting it back during the race's final caution. He finished 24th.
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