Kyle Busch led 116 laps in Saturday night's NASCAR Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, but didn't compete for the win as a broken shock relegated him to a 10th-place finish.
Busch appeared to have the strongest car in the early stages of the race, leading from lap 46-96 and again from lap 99-129 of the 267-lap race. But his fortunes changed on lap 118 when he tagged the backstretch wall and developed a vibration. He maintained his lead until the lap 126 caution, but the car wasn't the same in traffic. The contact broke spring mount which ultimately led to a broken spring.
There were about 80 laps between making contact with the wall and losing the shock, Busch said after the race.
"We were having a lot of fun early, but it turned into another tough night," Busch said. "We salvaged a heck of a finish considering all we went through, driving on three pogo sticks."
It's been a tumultuous five-week stretch for Busch, who has an average finish of 24th dating back to Dover. The driver of Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 car blew three straight engines at Dover, Pocono, and Michigan and was caught up in an accident last week at Sonoma.
The loss of a shock at Kentucky was exaggerated by the bumpy track surface and the car was visibly ill during the second half of the race. Capturing his eighth top-10 of the season was a moral victory all things considered.
The recent struggles have dropped Busch to 12th in the standings, but his Richmond victory has him safe for now as the first wild card. Busch is now 42 points behind 10th-place Brad Keselowski.
"We're still within reach of the top 10, but we're just not running the way that we need to be running right now," Busch said.