Kurt Busch stays out of trouble at Bristol

Phoenix Racing press release

Busch Finishes 18th at Bristol
Five-time Bristol Winner Avoids Trouble, Leaves Bristol Unscathed

Kurt Busch and the No. 51 Phoenix Racing team arrived at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway with specific objectives – log laps and finish the race. They did just that, scoring an 18th-place finish in the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday. {{1299852|left||

“That was a good run for us,” said Busch, a five-time Bristol winner. “It was the same thing all weekend. We couldn’t get the car to turn and never could find any grip. It started that way on Friday, and we never could come up with an answer for it. Our plan for today was to complete laps and be there at the end. We just missed it a little, but we’re taking the car back in one piece, and that was one of our objectives.”

Busch, the driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet Impala, started 27th and immediately encountered the same issue he fought since the car was unloaded at Bristol – the car wouldn’t turn. The first caution waved on lap 25 for a multi-car accident that unfolded in front of the No. 51 Chevrolet. Busch avoided the incident and made a pit stop for a track bar adjustment and fuel. Busch was in 20th place when green-flag racing resumed, but the lack of front grip continued to be a problem.

The team made another round of adjustments during the second caution on lap 115, adjusting the air pressure and wedge, changing four tires and adding fuel. As soon as green-flag racing resumed on lap 121 Busch reported that the front tires were sliding, making the car feel like it was “on skis.” The race would run under green-flag conditions for the next 200-plus laps, giving the leaders plenty of time to start lapping cars. Busch fell a lap down on lap 233 while running in 20th place. Less than 10 laps after being lapped, Busch told the team he thought the right-rear tire was flat. He quickly brought the No. 51 Chevrolet to pit road, where the team changed all four tires and added fuel. As Busch returned to the track, the team discovered that the cap of the right-rear tire had burned off during the course of the long, green-flag run. The unscheduled stop dropped Busch to 31st place, three laps down to the leaders.

Fortunately for 2004 Sprint Cup champion Busch, the rest of the field came down pit road just a few laps later for scheduled pit stops. So Busch ended up only one lap down, running in 20th, when green-flag stops cycled through on lap 263.

The third caution of the race was displayed on lap 339. Still trying to find front grip in the No. 51 Chevrolet, the team added wedge and adjusted the air pressure on the rear tires, sending Busch back on track in 20th place. When racing resumed, Busch reported the car was “all over the place.” It was discovered the team made a mistake and went the wrong direction with the wedge adjustment, taking rounds out rather than adding. But the team caught another break when the caution was displayed for the fourth time just a few laps later, giving Busch the opportunity to pit to make the correct adjustment on the No. 51 Chevrolet.

Busch was in 20th place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 371. During the course of the next 100 laps, he picked up two more positions. The fifth and final caution was displayed on lap 479 when reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart was sent spinning due to contact from Brendan Gaughan. The No. 51 team made the decision to pit for four fresh tires. Busch restarted the race from 18th place and maintained the position to the checkered flag.

Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at Bristol.

Matt Kenseth finished .714 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top 10.

There were five caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

With round four of 36 complete, Busch is 27th in the championship point standings with 70 points, 87 behind series leader Greg Biffle.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 25 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Phoenix Racing
Tags busch, chevrolet, phoenix racing