BRISTOL, Tenn. – Combining tenacity with a delicate driving skill, Kurt Busch fought off adversity Sunday by posting an impressive fourth-place finish in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The final result was Busch’s best finish of the young Sprint Cup season and his best result in 10 career races with the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team. Since joining Furniture Row Racing with six races remaining in the 2012 schedule, he has claimed four top-10s and one top-five.
“Considering how much we had to battle back from adversity today, the finish was even more gratifying,” said Busch, who vaulted from 29th to 16th in driver points. “We fell two laps down because of a loose right-rear wheel and then we suffered left-front damage near the end of the race. We battled hard, and the poor No. 78 car – she’s used up.”
Driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet SS, Busch saved the best for the closing laps at the world’s fastest half-mile oval. When the green flag waved following the final caution on Lap 460 of 500, he was positioned in 13th place.
During the final 40 laps, Busch was recording the fastest lap times as he tenaciously drove to the front, gaining nine positions by the time he took the checkered flag.
“We ran into (Joey) Logano with less than 50 to go,” explained Busch. “We had damage and had to pit. I’m like ‘what else?’ But that allowed us to be off sequence and we put on four fresh tires and battled back. We probably wouldn’t have even put four (tires) on if we hadn’t had the damage. So we had to drop back and punt — that was the best call to make.”
It was evident from the beginning of the race that Busch had a fast car. He started 19th and by Lap 64 he was already in the top-five.
But while running in third place on Lap 220, he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop under green flag conditions due to a loose right-rear wheel. The problem dropped Busch to 29th place and two laps down.
“When you fall two laps down, it’s almost like your day is over,” noted Busch. “But we kept at it and got those laps back, which gave us an opportunity to make another run to the front. We had a very fast car today and to come home with a top-five is exactly what we needed.”
The final result also lifted Busch’s career record at Bristol Motor Speedway, which includes 25 starts, five wins, seven top-fives and 14 top-10s.
The race winner was Kasey Kahne. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray.
There were 17 lead changes among 10 drivers and 10 cautions for 66 laps.
The next stop for Busch and the Furniture Row Racing team will be Sunday (March 24) at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.