It's probably safe to say now: Kyle Busch isn't going to win NASCAR's Chase for the Championship.
The volatile driver proclaimed his Chase chances over after blowing an engine in Dover last week, a statement crew chief Steve Addington said was a bit premature. After suffering through mechanical problems for the third straight race, Busch's hopes might have been dashed for good.
The Chase leader after the regular season, Busch finished 28th at Kansas Speedway on Sunday and is 311 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson - pretty much an insurmountable hole with seven races left.
"I think it's pretty self-explanatory to everyone out there," Busch said.
Busch started 31st and never really made up any ground because of car trouble. The crew couldn't figure out what was wrong, guessing it was a malfunctioning carburetor, so they told him to stay out until the next caution.
Busch kept racing and only took tires and gas on the next pit stop, saying on the radio he thought maybe the problem had burned off in the engine.
It didn't get any better.
Busch's crew never did figure out what was wrong, even after lifting the hood during a pit stop near the halfway point, and his car continued to sputter along the rest of the day.
"It was just like probably what it sounded like - sputtering and not running clean," Busch said.
Busch wasn't the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver to have a tough day.
Tony Stewart had all kinds of problems, nearly hitting crewmembers from another team during a pit stop early, sliding across the infield after making contact with another car later in the race. He had to take a long pit stop near the 200-lap mark to fix the front spoiler, which was damaged from sliding across the grass, and finished 40th. Stewart is 11th in the Chase standings, 255 points from the lead.
Denny Hamlin also had a rough day, struggling with handling early, then some kind of engine problem in the final 30 laps to finish 11th. He's 10th in the standings - 243 points behind Johnson - leaving JGR in the final three spots in the Chase after three races.
PENALTY ENOUGH: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said Sunday that Chip Ganassi Racing and Brian Pattie, crew chief for the No. 42 Dodge of Juan Pablo Montoya, are not likely to be hit with any further penalties for the technical violation that cost them the Kansas pole.
"We'll continue to review it, but this is a lot like when we find a car is a little too high or too low in inspection," Pemberton said. "It's not a major offense and losing the pole is probably enough of a penalty."
PIT STOPS: Jeff Burton, fourth in the Chase standings before Sunday, had to move to the back of the pack at the start after replacing a tachometer on pit row. He was charged with a pit stop and dropped from 37th to 43rd. He rallied to finish seventh and is fourth in the Chase standings, 121 back of Johnson. ... Clint Bowyer, who grew up in nearby Emporia, was black-flagged to pit road after being charged with jumping the start. Bowyer, who started 24th, came back off pit road just ahead of the leaders to avoid falling a lap down and rallied to finish 12th. ... Kevin Harvick finished sixth, his ninth consecutive top-10 finish. ... Dodge's R6P8 engine made it debut in Kurt Busch's No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger after the Penske team had done midweek testing on it for several months. "It was just a tough day all around - loose, tight, loose, tight," said Busch, who finished 30th. "Our handling issue didn't give us a chance to evaluate the performance of the new engine."
The Associated Press