LOUDON, N.H. -- A second-lap crash cost defending NASCAR
Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch dearly Sunday, relegating him to a
35th-place finish and last place in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.
Busch, one of 10 drivers qualified for the 10-race title
playoff, started 12th in the 43-car field and was running
side-by-side with Scott Riggs when Riggs appeared to lose control
of his car, slid up into Busch's No. 97 Ford and sent it spinning
into the outside wall between turns one and two on the
banked 1.058-mile oval at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Busch, who began his championship drive last year with a victory
here, drove the battered Roush Racing entry back to his garage with
smoke enveloping the car and water and other fluids spewing onto
the track. The sometimes volatile Busch scrambled quickly from his
car and walked swiftly out of the garage and along pit row, NASCAR
officials and members of the media trailing behind like an odd
He strode straight to Riggs' pit, halfway down pit row, climbed
up on the pit box and spoke for several seconds with Riggs' crew
chief Rodney Childers. He then walked quickly back to the garage,
where his team was working feverishly to try to repair the badly
They were able to get Busch back into the race, but 66 laps
behind the leaders. Attrition in the race allowed him to move from
last to 35th, netting an extra 24 points that left Busch 142 behind
leader Tony Stewart, who finished second.
Riggs "started off the race too loose and he got into us and
it's tough to have that happen so early in the race," Busch said.
"We didn't even get a chance to show our potential.
"It's just unfortunate. There's guy you can race with, there's
guys you can't. And he really doesn't know where he is most of the
time. At Indy, he pinched me down and we into one another. He
wrecked Sterling Marlin at California."
Asked what he said to Childers, Busch said: "I just wanted to
tell his crew chief that he started the car way too loose so,
hopefully, they don't hurt anybody else in the Chase."
Childers said Busch spoke to him calmly.
"They've had some past experiences with stuff," Childers said.
"He took us out at Indy and we forgave them. This was an accident
and he'll have to forgive us. I feel sorry for those guys. I know
they're in the Chase."
Riggs, who finished 28th, one lap behind winner Ryan Newman, was
not penalized by NASCAR. When told that Busch thought the crash was
payback for Indy, he said, "It sounds to me like he just has a
Busch, who started the day fifth in the standings, just 20
points behind Stewart, said this just makes things a little more
"Now we have to go and attack each race for a win," he said.
"We have to go to Dover [Del. next Sunday] and expect to win and try to build our points back up."
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Busch was not summoned to the
NASCAR hauler because "he told our officials what he was going to
do and he conducted himself in a professional manner."