Blown engine puts Kurt Busch in playoff hole

Kurt Busch

Blowing an engine to start your run to a second championship is not ideal. That’s what happened to Kurt Busch.

On Lap 194 of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, Kurt Busch radioed in that he was losing power. Entering Turn 1 on Lap 199, smoke poured out the tail pipe and brought out the caution.

“Hendrick Engines has been bullet-proof the last few years,” he said, “and it’s a big surprise to all of us.”

There wasn’t an indication of what went wrong.

“Maybe a valve,” he said, noting it was purely speculation, “and then, eventually, the valve broke. Once it broke, it then just started rattling around, and then locked up a rod.

With the greater emphasis placed on engineering in the NASCAR Cup Series over the last decade, engines don’t blow up as much as they used to. As a result, some drivers go entire seasons between blown engines.

“Quality control is very high,” he said. “The amount of attention to detail is at an all-time high. I haven’t seen an engine failure in years, and so whether it’s a Chevy or Ford or Toyota, everybody is spot on.”

Prior to Sunday, the last time an engine blew for Busch was July 8, 2017, at Kentucky Speedway.

He ended the day at Kansas City, Kansas, 38th, having led two laps.

A ninth-place finish in the second stage prevented him from leaving with just a single point. With that said, however, he left with three.

Furthermore, he leaves in a 65-point hole to Chase Elliott in fourth. He’s essentially in a must-win situation to join Joey Logano in the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway and win his second Cup Series championship.

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