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NASCAR Notebook: Blown tire knocks Kyle Busch out of points lead

LOUDON, N.H. -- Kyle Busch entered Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tolls 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup Series points leader but exited the event for a lengthy stay in the garage after blowing his right front tire and slamming th...

LOUDON, N.H. -- Kyle Busch entered Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tolls 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup Series points leader but exited the event for a lengthy stay in the garage after blowing his right front tire and slamming the Turn 2 wall on Lap 59.

Before the tire blew, Busch had been working traffic after a four-tire pit stop under caution on Lap 31--his second stop under that yellow--put him deep in the field for a restart on Lap 35.

"Blew a bead," Busch said, referring to the edge of the tire that sits on the wheel. "Fastest car here--getting through the field pretty good and kind of the only guy passing guys, I guess, there. We made some big changes there on that pit stop.

"We came back and got four (tires) just to make sure we got all the changes we wanted to. Working our way up through there. Just blew a bead, I guess, transferring too much brake heat through the wheel."

Busch was asked whether contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevrolet contributed to his tire problem.

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"Nice try at making up a story," Busch replied. "There's contact with everybody out there. It had nothing to do with anybody else. Just blew a bead. Too much brake heat transferring through the wheel and blew a tire. Nothing else besides that."

After extensive repairs, Busch returned to the track on Lap 134 and finished 36th.

Gordon survives succession of problems to finish 11th

LOUDON, N.H. -- Jeff Gordon ran everywhere from the lead to the tail end of the field in Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Briefly, he was a lap down, after his crew changed a battery under caution. And at one point in the race, the gauges on his dashboard lit up like so many Christmas tree lights. Later, he lost power completely because of an alternator problem before switching to his secondary battery.

Ultimately, Gordon blew a tire while running fourth late in the race and finished 11th--not a disastrous result given the problems he experienced.

"Oh, my goodness -- what didn't happen today?" Gordon asked after the race. "You have to survive these races in a lot of different ways, and we had a lot of obstacles thrown at us with the alternator issue, which caused me to have to turn my A/C off and brake blowers, which probably ultimately blew that right front tire there at the end.

"So it was a challenging day in a lot of ways. But it was certainly something--and we're excited about coming back here later in the year to this racetrack. Our car was fast."

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Sprint expects to be with NASCAR "for the long haul"

Sprint's announcement Sunday of the Sprint Summer Showdown, which puts a total of $3 million on the line for a Cup driver, the driver's charity and a lucky fan, is a measure of the wireless telecommunication company's commitment to NASCAR.

That commitment extends to ongoing negotiations between NASCAR and the title sponsor of its foremost series. Sprint is in the eighth year of a 10-year, $750-million contract that comes to term in 2013. At this juncture, all signs point to a renewal, and Tim Considine, Sprint's director of sports marketing, did nothing to dispel that impression.

"Outside looking in, it makes sense on paper, but you really can't understand what this sport's about--and the opportunity--until you're really inside of it," Considine told Sporting News on Sunday.

"I think, over the past eight years, we've really come to grow very fond of the opportunity, the fan base, the relationships, and it's been great for our business. Race fans are great wireless customers. We are in negotiations with NASCAR, as I think everyone knows, and our CEO (Dan Hesse) commented on it several weeks ago.

"Our intent is to be with this thing for the long haul."

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