Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished eighth in Sunday’s rain-postponed Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway after spending most of the race trying to rally from behind.
Busch overcame a 23rd-place starting position, issues with being blocked in his box on pit road and an ill-handling racecar to earn his 19th top-10 result of 2016 and his 11th top-10 in 33 career Sprint Cup starts at Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval.
“We went through a lot today,” Busch said. “The restart, I guess we survived it better than most when everybody had that trouble. We just missed on the setup on the first five laps, and then after 30 laps, man, she would just go away. We got what we could out of it and all in all an eighth-place finish; guys had trouble, it is one of those days where you just go ‘all right, we will take it.’ It’s not the best, but with this Haas Automation/Monster Energy team, that is the finish we need to advance through this Chase.”
Early in the race Busch struggled with a tight-handling racecar in the center of the corners. While he managed to gain a handful of positions with his Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet, Busch struggled to challenge for positions. Myriad adjustments to the racecar ordered by crew chief Tony Gibson didn’t help. Busch radioed that his racecar developed a looseness on corner exit and lacked rear grip and that he couldn’t keep the back end of the car in the racetrack, which made it difficult for him to drive.
A wreck on a restart with 75 laps remaining caused damage to numerous cars, including the No. 41. Fortunately the damage sustained was minor, and the Haas Automation/Monster Energy crew was able to make repairs and capitalize on the misfortune of some of the other drivers. Busch continued to struggle with an ill-handling racecar over the closing laps, but he was able to break inside the top-10 before the end of the race and up to eighth when the checkered flag waved.
“It’s all wide open still,” Busch said. “That restart kind of looked like Talladega when we all tried to get through that last year. We keep battling, and we don’t give up. We have damage on our car, we have bad pit stops, or today we just had an awful pit selection position because Danica (Patrick) was doing well today. She was on the lead lap and kept coming around us, and it boxed us in. We don’t need that, but we weren’t the ones penalized, they were the ones penalized on their pit position. It is just weird how some of the things play out, but all in all I’m really happy with these guys, Tony Gibson and all the things that have been thrown at us. We will take an eighth-place finish today.
“We will go to the drawing board this week and dial up what we need for Kansas next week, because Kansas is real similar to this place. Lady Luck was on our side, and we will take it. We know we want to be better, we want to be faster, and we had luck on our side today.”
Busch led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Charlotte with his eighth-place finish.
There were eight caution periods for 51 laps with nine drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.
Busch and Harvick are representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and after Charlotte – the fourth race of the 10-race Chase – they rank fifth and 12th, respectively, in the Round of 12. Busch leaves Charlotte with a 24-point margin over ninth place. Harvick is 12th, eight points out of the top-eight. Following the sixth race of the Chase at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, only those Chase drivers who have won a race or are among the top-eight in points will advance to the Round of 8.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fifth race of the Chase – is the Oct. 16 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 2:15 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.