LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch's historic trifecta skidded to a last-place ending.
The Sprint Cup series points leader finished 43rd Sunday at the Pocono 500, set back by a wreck 47 laps into the race. Busch didn't appear to see Jamie McMurray behind him when he veered right and into McMurray. Busch then hit the wall, forcing him into the garage for major repairs.
Busch returned to the track down 87 laps, but he skidded again with 22 laps to go and spun into the infield.
So ended a weekend that started with much hoopla about Busch's successful quest to become the first driver to race in all three of NASCAR's national series at three different tracks.
His cross-country tripleheader started out well Friday night when, after qualifying at Pocono, he flew to Texas and finished second in a Truck Series race.
But things slowly turned south from there for the Joe Gibbs Racing star.
Busch wrecked his car at practice back at Pocono on Saturday, forcing him to go to a backup. That night, after flying to Tennessee for the second stop of his three-day tripleheader, Bush finished 20th, three laps down, in a Nationwide Series race.
Then Sunday, Busch said the mirror broke on the backup car while his crew tried to adjust it before the race, leaving him blind out of his right rear quarter panel. It appeared that Busch's spotter tried to warn his driver over the radio about McMurray before Busch veered right, though Busch said in the garage that he didn't get the message.
”So I couldn't clear myself,“ Busch said. ”The spotter didn't say anything so I apologize to McMurray for wrecking their day.“
Pocono too hot to handle
Denny Hamlin spoke slowly and looked pale. An exhausted AJ Allmendinger gulped down fluids at his trailer. Brian Vickers cooled off in the air-conditioned media center, but was still sweating profusely before heading back outside.
Temperatures in the 90s and humid conditions took a toll on the drivers Sunday in the Pocono 500.
”I am about to fall over, and just knowing I'm not the only one makes me feel a little bit better,“ Vickers said after his second-place finish.
”It's brutal. These cars, I don't know what they have to do as a sport, but they are,“ he said before trailing off.
Some drivers drove with malfunctioning cool boxes, which allowed hot air to stream in as they raced at speeds of 150 mph or more. Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared winded after getting out of his car, and his face was beet-red.
The temperatures may have given more ammunition to critics who want at least one of the two summertime races at Pocono Raceway to be cut back to 400 miles.
”It was a long one,“ Allmendinger said after letting out a sigh behind his trailer. ”I don't know why we have to race that long around this place. That's a long race.“
Junior misses big win
Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in fifth at the Pocono, though he did get a first-place finish for the flagship No. 88 Chevrolet he fields in the Nationwide Series. When the moment finally came, he didn't even get to see it.
The satellite feed at Pocono Raceway crashed with 10 laps remaining in Saturday night's race in Nashville, and Earnhardt had to monitor Brad Keselowski's first career victory over the Internet.
”I'd have liked to have been there,“ Earnhardt Jr. said before Sunday's race. ”We've been waiting for that for a long, long time.“