MARTINSVILLE, Va. – For a brief time during the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway it appeared that Kurt Busch was going to make another comeback as he did by scoring top-five finishes in the past two Sprint Cup races in Bristol, Tenn. and Fontana, Calif.
But on this Sunday at the southern Virginia short track the bad breaks and mechanical malfunctions were just too much to overcome for the Furniture Row Racing driver, who ended the race with a burning racecar and a 37th-place finish.
“It was a rough day, no doubt about that,” said Busch. “You can’t have the number of problems that plagued us today and expect to come away with a decent finish. But we’re fighters and we’ll keep on battling. There’s no quit with our Furniture Row Racing guys.”
Busch started 19th and patiently drove his No. 78 Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS to the front. By Lap 195 of 500 he entered the top-10 and ran as high as seventh.
But on Lap 270 Busch encountered the first of four major incidents.
The first incident was a result of Busch’s Chevrolet getting tangled with Joey Logano’s car, causing Busch’s left-front tire to go flat. The incident dropped Busch to the rear of the field and two laps down.
Busch managed to get one lap back and was close to being in position for a “Lucky Dog” free pass, but then came the second bad break (Lap 292) when he spun out after being hit from behind by David Gilliland’s No. 38 car.
The third setback was when the No.78 Chevrolet experienced a fuel problem (Lap 351), which forced Busch to the garage where the Furniture Row crew replaced the fuel cell.
The fourth misfortune — with 14 laps remaining — was the most spectacular when the No. 78 Chevy shot up in flames due to a right-front brake failure. The final incident ended Busch’s day as he was transported to the infield care center where he was observed and released.
“Something let go in the brakes,” explained Busch. “The brakes got real spongy and then the pedal went straight to the floor. I had to turn the car to the right otherwise I was going to hit harder than what we did.
“We had a fuel pump issue earlier and then a brake issue. It was a bummer day for the Furniture Row guys. They work really hard and we buy a lot of the same parts as all of the big teams do, we just had some bad luck today.”
The final result dropped Busch from 13th to 19th in the driver point standings. The Martinsville race was the sixth of the season.
The race winner was Jimmie Johnson. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin.
The next Sprint Cup Series race is Saturday night (April 13) at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.