By The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — It started with a crash right after the green flag fell. Then things really got chaotic at Sunday’s Brickyard 400.
Kyle Busch’s car was damaged when he spun on the first lap of the race, collecting a group of seven cars.
The melee tore up some of the infield grass, creating debris that apparently got caught in the grills of several other cars and caused them to overheat. Contenders such as Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski made green-flag pit stops.
Ryan Newman had a flat tire, and Max Papis’ car briefly caught on fire after an apparent incident with Robby Gordon.
And it all happened before lap 20.
Juan Pablo Montoya stayed in front of the chaos for most of the day and appeared to have a victory in hand. But a late strategy decision put him back in the pack, then he lost control in the closing laps and collided with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jamie McMurray won the race.
It was a tough way to start for Busch, who was driving his first Sprint Cup race with a new spotter. But he rebounded to finish eighth.
“We fought all day,” Busch said. “We saved the day. It was just a mistake made early there that almost had us in big, big trouble. Fortunately, we came back. We’ve had a really tough time over the past four or five races, so it was good to bounce back.”
Busch won Saturday night’s Nationwide series race at nearby O’Reilly Raceway Park, but he didn’t qualify very well at the big track earlier Saturday and started 23rd.
Busch sustained damage and had to pit for repairs, but was able to return to the track. He made an impressive climb back up to 12th place by lap 40.
And it was another rough day in a stock car for Sam Hornish Jr., the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner. He was able to return to the race after the early spin but was two laps down to the leaders.
“I tried to keep it from spinning out, but just needed 12 inches to keep it off the wall,” Hornish said. “It (stinks). We work so hard and looked forward to racing here. We don’t make it half a lap before trouble finds us.”
Hornish has had disappointing results since trying to make the transition to NASCAR and said Friday that his future in NASCAR is uncertain. Because sponsor ExxonMobil is leaving his car at the end of this season, there’s nothing in place for him to drive next year.