Kurt Busch hopes to continue "very consistent year" in Kentucky backup car

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Kurt Busch hopes to continue
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Jul 9, 2016, 1:22 AM

Kurt Busch wasn’t going to let a wreck get in the way of his perfect record.

Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

And the former NASCAR champion will be tested again on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. 

With less than 10 minutes remaining in Happy Hour, Busch slid in Turn 3 and slapped the wall. He’ll start the Quaker State 400 from the rear of the field in a back up car. Still, after 17 races, Busch is the only driver to complete every lap in 2016 Sprint Cup Series competition. 

Still, it took a little bit of determination and a lot of luck to keep his run going last Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Busch was running second when Joey Logano punted the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevy coming off the final corner on the last lap. Busch slid sideways through the grass with the rear of his car crossing the finish line first.

“It’s been a very consistent year,” Busch told motorsport.com. “(Tony) Gibson (crew chief) has a great group of guys and we’re building good cars, making smart moves everywhere and we know we can do better. And there’s things that we have to do better to get to Victory Lane more often.

“Then there’s the big picture, which is to be prepared for a run to the Chase. There’s a few things we’re balancing, but, overall, everyone is smiling, working hard and having fun.” 

Perhaps Busch’s recent success is the reason he was able to recover from Saturday night’s incident with Logano. Instead of escaping Daytona with a win — or at least a top-five finish that could have potentially handed Busch the points lead — the No. 41 was scored 23rd, the last car on the lead lap. Busch fell to third in the standings, 20 points behind his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick. 

Burying the hatchet on Daytona incident

Both Logano and his team owner Roger Penske reached out to apologize to Busch. 

“I know I’ll see Roger in person,” said Busch of his former owner. “Logano left me voice mails and texts. To say ‘Sorry’ is one thing. It’s part of understanding that you did something wrong. And Roger is there to protect his driver. 

“We’ll go on and race the next race and we’ll race down the road with all that in mind. I know we’re going to be racing Gibbs guys and Penske guys for the title — and that just goes into one of the categories of racing for the title. Hope to not have that as an issue, but our team has a bigger objective.”

NASCAR debuted the lower downforce package here at Kentucky Speedway last year. Busch finished 10th. In the two events racing the 2017 prototype (at the All-Star Race and Michigan Speedway), Busch finished fifth and 10th, respectively. 

This weekend, Busch was 17th, eighth and 10th in the first three practices on the newly repaved 1.5-mile track at Kentucky prior to the miscue in Happy Hour. In five starts at the 1.5-miler, Busch has three top-10s. 

Despite the changes to the track, Busch remains optimistic. 

“The track is starting to come into its own,” Busch said. “I wish we had more time on Thursday — at night, since we’re racing at night. It’s a little awkward to get out there and the track temp was as hot as it was and to get a feel for the hard tire. The tire is very conservative, but overall, it’s coming together. 

“Watching the truck race (Thursday) night, that was a good result on a new track to see the action — guys on fresh tires, guys on old tires, side-by-side. So the track should be fine.”

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Kentucky
Location Kentucky Speedway
Drivers Kurt Busch
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Author Lee Spencer
Article type Preview