Nightmare Continues For JGR

The disastrous Chase season continued for Joe Gibbs Racing Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart struggled throughout the 500-lap grind on the .526-mile track with 29th and 26th place finishes to show for their efforts.

Busch's day went sour on lap 162 when he got a flat tire and stopped on track in Turn 2. NASCAR penalized Busch for stopping to bring out a caution and held him on pit road for a two lap penalty that ended his quest for a win on Sunday.

“We just can’t seem to catch a break,” said Busch, who has finished 38th and 29th, respectively, in the two Sprint Cup events at Martinsville in 2008. “The first part of the race, I couldn’t get the car stopped like I wanted it to and it was too tight in the center of the corner. I have no idea what caused all the right-front tire problems for us, but we just need to take a look at it further and find out why, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Stewart suffered brake problems as well as tire issues of his own and spent much of his day on pit road. His battered No. 20 Toyota suffered damage from the tire problems as well as several impacts with other cars on track.

The only bright spot of the afternoon for JGR was the run by Denny Hamlin, who came up short in his bid for a sweep of Martinsville in 2008 but still nailed down a fifth place finish.

“It definitely feels good," Hamlin said. "It’s a reliever for us. We needed to stop the bleeding for sure, so I’m excited to make it to the second half of this ‘Chase.' We’ve had a rough start and a realistic goal for us is to try to get to the top six or seven in points and I think that’s very feasible.”

Hamlin knew that despite the solid run he, like most everyone else in the field, had nothing for winner Jimmie Johnson or the Hendrick Motorsports stable, which locked up four spots in the top ten.

“If you had a Hendrick car you had a superior car over everyone else," he said. "It’s just been like that ever since we’ve been here at Martinsville. Those guys have just got something figured out. They’re building something into their race cars. It’s not parts and pieces that you’re changing here at the race track."

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