The driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro has to make up considerable ground in the final Round of 16 NASCAR Cup Series playoff race after a stunning crash. Kurt Busch slammed into the wall early at Richmond after a flat tire, dropping him to a last-place finish.
The incident occurred immediately after the competition caution. The crew chief made up of replacement members due to contact tracing protocols turned in a fast stop and helped Busch take the lead from Denny Hamlin off pit road. He led the field to the green flag and then began fighting for position. Busch fell behind Hamlin and Joey Logano before coming under attack from Ryan Blaney.
The driver of the No. 1 kept fighting for position with Blaney and appeared to be within reach of taking back third place. However, the Chevrolet suddenly spun and slammed violently into the wall, destroying the driver’s side of the stock car. What remained of Busch’s tire spun into the middle of the track where Bubba Wallace ran it over.
Busch was able to climb out of the stock car under his own power and accompany the safety crew to the ambulance. The only thing he said over the radio was that he had somehow cut a tire, but he didn’t know what happened. Busch later met with NBC Sports and said that the car was loose and that something felt “wonky” before he spun and hit the wall.
There Was an Early Indication That Something Was Wrong
The NBC Sports broadcast crew watched the replay of the start after the competition caution and noticed something strange about the rear left tire on the No. 1. They saw that there was no lettering on the side of the Goodyear and that it had less air pressure than the other three.
The analysts did not know exactly what would have caused the tire to go flat so suddenly, but they had some ideas. One theory was that the tire had a broken valve stem that caused a slow leak. Another is that Busch ran something over after making the pit stop. However, the No. 1 did not have any visible damage that would indicate there were any issues.
Goodyear Tires later provided some important information on Twitter. The company said that Busch had run over some debris in the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro, resulting in a puncture and the subsequent spin.
Busch Entered the Second Playoff Race Above the Cut Line
The driver of the No. 1 entered the race at Richmond in the perfect position to stack points and move on to the Round of 12. He had a 26-point advantage over the cut line after turning in a sixth-place finish in the Cook Out Southern 500.
Early on, Busch made it appear that he would contend for the win once again. He and the No. 1 team had a considerable amount of raw speed, and he raced his way to second place overall by the time the field hit the competition caution on lap 32. However, the situation completely changed after Busch hit the wall.
The 2004 Cup Series champion will now be in a “must-win” position when he heads to Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 18. Achieving this goal and reaching the Round of 12 will not be a simple task, but Busch has a history of success at the short track.
The veteran driver has 40 starts at Bristol in his decorated career, and he has reached Victory Lane a total of six times. Busch first won in 2002 while driving for Roush and then he won three consecutive races at the track in 2003 and 2004. He added another win in 2006, this time for Team Penske. His most recent win took place in 2018 with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Busch has not won at Bristol since joining Chip Ganassi Racing, but he has put himself into contention each time. He has three top-10 finishes in four tries, a list that includes a runner-up behind his brother Kyle in 2019.