CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Busch emerged from the infield care center at Charlotte Motor Speedway carrying a water bottle, relieved that a long, exhausting day was finally over.

Busch weathered two accidents, a spin and a sweltering car to finish the playoff race 29th, a minor victory considering what a difficult day it had been Sunday.

It was good enough to keep him above the cutline after the first race of the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs .

When Busch’s No. 18 Toyota hit the wall early in the race, it crushed the right rear panel and he said caused the temperature in his car to “rise about 50 degrees” on an already humid October afternoon.

Busch has participated in 934 races over NASCAR’s three national series, but said this was by far the hottest he’s ever been in a vehicle.

With about 50 laps remaining he radioed in he was staying on the track to pick up needed playoff points, but would need medical treatment after the race . He was helped out of his car immediately after Martin Truex Jr’s victory and laid on the infield grass where he received medical treatment for about 10 minutes before being transported to the infield care center for more care.

Busch said he tested high for carbon monoxide and that he felt as if he was having a heat stroke.

“It got so hot inside the car that literally it felt like you were going to puke,” Busch said. “We just tried to make it to the end of the race and luckily we did. From there it was trying to get my body temperature cooled back down.”

The finish left Busch in sixth place in the points standings, two spots above the playoff cutline with two races remaining in the round. The field of 12 will be cut to eight in two weeks.

Busch had been dominant in the first round, winning two of three races.

“It stinks to give up points,” Busch said. “We thought we had a good chance to run in the top 10 and we did. I threw it away. We are still above the cutline. But we no longer have the cushion that we would like to have.”

Busch’s problems began when he hit the wall in Turn 3.

He said it was difficult to get a read on the upper groove of the track where officials had applied a sticky compound designed to improve traction and create more competitive racing.

“I got in the slick stuff and I got into turn three and I was following (Kevin) Harvick and I was trying to work up a little bit,” Busch said. “The last three laps I was inching it up. But apparently an inch a lap is too high and I got crossed up instantly. As soon as turned off in the corner it was sideways.”

Busch also crashed twice during practice Friday.

His struggles in Charlotte continue on the Cup Series level.

Although he has won the All-Star race this this year and has won eight Xfinity Series races and seven Truck races, he has never won a Cup points race at the track.


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STEVE REED
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