JOLIET, Ill. – A five-hour rain delay, a flat tire and a speeding penalty couldn’t stop Kurt Busch’s momentum as the Furniture Row Racing driving made another comeback to post a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Geico 400, the first of 10 Chase playoff races.
Busch, who is the first driver to qualify for the Chase from a single-car team, moved from 10th to sixth in the Chase point standings.
The result was Busch’s third straight top-five and sixth top-10 in the last seven races. His season totals after the 27thSprint Cup Series race are nine top-fives and 14 top-10s.
The fourth-place finish was also Busch’s first career top-five in 13 starts at Chicagoland Speedway.
“Being consistent with top-fives is what the Chase is all about, and tonight we got off to a good start -- it’s one down and nine to go,” stated Busch, who is making his seventh Chase appearance.
Busch and the Furniture Row Racing team once again fought through adversity.
After a sub-par starting position of 16th, Busch got cited for a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 77 of 267. He was ordered by NASCAR officials to come down pit road for a pass-through penalty, which dropped him from 16th to 27thplace and one-lap down.
“My green light was on all the way down pit road, not sure what happened,” explained Busch. “It was costly at the time and it didn't look good."
When the race was red-flagged due to rain for more than five hours on Lap 109, Busch was positioned in 27th place. When the race was restarted, he did not pit so he could take the wave around to get back on the lead lap.
"The wave around was a good decision by our crew chief (Todd Berrier)," said Busch. "It got us back on the lead lap and gave us the opportunity to get into the top-10 and top-five. That's where we needed to be."
Busch cracked the top-10 for the first time on Lap 147 and ran as high as third during the 400-mile race that started in the afternoon and ended at night.
Busch caught a break when he encountered a flat tire just before entering pit road for his final stop of the race on Lap 220.
“I just made it and that was a big break,” noted Busch. “But overall our Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet was off a fuzz. It’s like we’re missing about five percent. But we’re still going to search for the five percent – we’re like Indiana Jones, we’re not going to be satisfied until we find the Holy Grail.”
The Chicagoland race winner was Matt Kenseth. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman.
The race had 25 lead changes among 16 drivers and nine cautions for 46 laps.
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday, Sept. 22 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
Furniture Row Racing