Hot 20 – No lug nuts, no crew, as Kyle discovered heading to Pocono

They went and done it. Kyle Busch comes in leading early in the race at Dover. For whatever reason, when they went to tighten up the rear left lug nuts, the air gun was removing them instead. When the jack dropped, the car left, and shortly after the tire left the car. Bad news for Kyle. Today, bad news for the crew.

A major penalty can be handed out for sacrificing safety in order to have a fast pit stop. That clearly was not the case here, but it did not matter. Gone for four races are crew chief Adam Stevens, tire changer Jacob Seminara and tire carrier Kenneth Barber. To be fair, the rule does state “loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four race suspension of the crew chief and the tire changer and tire carrier of the lost wheel(s).” As I read it, and it appears this is NASCAR’s interpretation, intent matters not. Something tells me that a certain jackman might owe his buddies a few beers, at the very least.

Sometimes the crew does things a bit more on purpose. As we head to Pocono, we remember last year at this time, at this track, when Brad Keselowski’s rear tire carrier threw a hip check to the side of his driver’s car in the pits. NASCAR saw it, and did not like the unapproved modifications to its aerodynamics. Mind you, all he got was a call to return to the pits to repair the indentation. No one got vacation time.

Keselowski knows all about vacation time. He has not made it past the first segment in the past two races. As for Busch, he is left hoping race engineer Ben Beshore will have the magic atop the box to get him his first victory of the season as the Hot 20 make their first visit of the campaign to Pocono.

1. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 3 WINS – 414 PTS
Seven is heaven, but to win eight would be great.

2. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 2 WINS – 545 PTS
Good on segments, good on wins, good on points, good to go for the Chase.

3. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 2 WINS – 410 PTS
Dear Race Friends: Please do not wreck me until at least the second segment. Thanks, Brad.

4. KYLE LARSON – 1 WIN – 536 PTS
Had the best car out there last week, at least until the final re-start.

5. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 1 WIN – 299 PTS
Afraid last week that he had to hit the wall a third time to finally kill the car. It only took two.

6. RYAN NEWMAN – 1 WIN – 299 PTS
Late caution during green flag stops shuffled the order, allowing the Rocket a Top Ten at Dover.

7. KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN – 291 PTS
Wiggled early and took out Keselowski last week. One flat later, and he was gone himself.

8. AUSTIN DILLON – 1 WIN – 263 PTS
Until nine more drivers win this season, he is sitting pretty for the Chase.

9. KEVIN HARVICK – 429 PTS
Six Top Tens in his last seven races leaves him winless yet sitting pretty.

10. KYLE BUSCH – 416 PTS
“The wheels on the car go round and round…” He hates that song.

11. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 415 PTS
Has run no worse than 12th over the past seven events.

12. CHASE ELLIOTT – 398 PTS
After Richmond, Talladega, Kansas, and Charlotte, Dover was like a breath of fresh air.

13. DENNY HAMLIN – 361 PTS
Four Pocono wins, but the last one came seven years ago.

14. CLINT BOWYER – 349 PTS
Thought Tony Stewart was back, but it was just an idiot fan climbing the Dover catchfence.

15. JOEY LOGANO – 348 PTS (1 Win*)
Some seem to think Donald Trump’s win in November was also encumbered. They are wrong.

16. MATT KENSETH – 327 PTS
Screw it. Just win on Sunday and all this point counting will no longer matter.

17. RYAN BLANEY – 320 PTS
Ryan’s plan is to get eight more points than Kenseth and hope someone winless does not win.

18. TREVOR BAYNE – 287 PTS
40 points is not hard to make up…with a win. You might notice a bit of a theme here.

19. ERIK JONES – 283 PTS
Joins Saturday broadcast team of Erik, Ryan, Ricky, Kevin, Joey, Clint, Danica, and Denny.

20. DANIEL SUAREZ – 278 PTS
I read “Suarez drives in three”, but it was Eugenio’s performance for the Reds over the Cards.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.

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