March 18, 2012 in Sports

Bad luck has haunted Busch this season

 
Associated Press photo

Kurt Busch, left, managed to wear a smile talking to Jimmie Johnson at Daytona.
(Full-size photo)

If Kurt Busch had any doubt he’s stuck in a run of bad luck, it was probably confirmed when he hit a bird in one of the final practices for the Daytona 500.

“It was like hitting a 6-pound bowling ball,” he grimaced Saturday.

Alas, there was more to come for Busch, who suffered through a horrendous SpeedWeeks at Daytona.

He was wrecked in practice for the exhibition opening race, and his new Phoenix Racing team had to race to put a seat in his backup car. The backup was then wrecked with two laps remaining in the race.

He was flagged for speeding on pit road in the Daytona 500 qualifying race, hit the bird in practice the day before the race in a collision that caused so much damage his team had to change the engine, and was leading when he was part of the last-lap wreck in the Nationwide Series race.

Then, after sitting through the 36-hour rain delay for the main event, he was caught in an accident on the second lap of the Daytona 500.

The next race at Phoenix wasn’t so bad, but last week in Las Vegas, his hometown, was a disaster: Busch had four issues and his race ended with a hard crash after he ran over debris on the track.

He goes into today’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway ranked 29th in points – the lowest Busch has been in the standings a month into the season since his 2001 rookie year.

“I’m walking down pit road and people are looking up at the sky, hoping they don’t get hit by the same lightning,” Busch said. “That’s just my life in general, (stuff) just keeps happening.”

All the while, the public watches and waits for some sort of meltdown from Busch.

His ranting and raving over his in-car radio was notorious, and reached an all-time low last season. There were a handful of other public outbursts, and he and Penske Racing decided to part ways at the end of last season. Busch believed he needed a fresh start, which he got with James Finch’s low-budget Phoenix Racing, and he went into this year determined to “put the fun back in racing.”

But Busch’s history made it easy to believe a fast-moving rumor last Sunday that Busch had reverted back to his old ways following the accident at Las Vegas.

Both the driver and team representatives say Busch threw a water bottle at a chain-link fence as he exited the infield care center, but, like an old wives’ tale, the story has morphed into an alleged major meltdown.

Sadler victor in Nationwide race

Elliott Sadler won the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sadler didn’t pit during the final caution to inherit the lead, and was out front on the final restart with 28 laps to go in Saturday’s race.

He easily held off Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski to win for the second time in three weeks.

Prior to this winning streak, Sadler’s last victory in the Nationwide Series came in 1998.

Kahne finished second, Keselowski was third and was followed by Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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