AVONDALE, Ariz. – After starting at the rear of the 43-car field due to changing to a backup car after Friday’s qualifying accident, Kurt Busch was a driver on the move when the green flag dropped for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 Sprint Cup race.
By Lap 31 he had his No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet SS running in the top-10 at Phoenix International Raceway’s 1-mile oval.
He stayed in or near the top-10 for the next 200 laps. But his smooth sailing ascent to the front suddenly took a turn for the worse, and when the checkered flag waved Busch was credited with a 27th-place finish.
“We went from a smooth-running top-10 car to a disheartening finish,” said Busch. “Too many things went wrong on that long green-flag run towards the end of the race.”
When the caution came out on Lap 236 of the scheduled 312-lap race, Busch was positioned in 11th place. He came down pit road for two left-side tires, fuel and an air pressure and chassis adjustment.
When the race was restarted on Lap 242, he was sitting in 16th place.
“I couldn’t get the car to take off on the restart,” noted Busch. “Looking back it was the beginning of the end.”
It was apparent from that point Busch was wrestling with the car’s handling. And a short time after the restart, he brushed the concrete wall, causing serious aerodynamic damage along the right-side of the car. The damage from the impact ended any hope of getting back to the front.
“It was like a switch flipped and we had a completely different car,” stated Busch. “We had no zip and we paid the price. After Daytona, and now Phoenix, we’re being tested. But we had enough positive flashes the past two weeks to know that we can run up front.”
Busch’s next test in the Furniture Row Chevrolet will be Sunday (March 10) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Phoenix Race winner was: Carl Edwards. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton.