Loose ends in Las Vegas for Kurt Busch

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Food City 500 on Sunday, March 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished 26th in the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday afternoon at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch started 23rd and immediately raced his way into the top-20. He was 16th by lap 20 around the 1.5-mile oval before developing a loose-handling condition whenever it exited the track’s corner. Busch battled to maintain his top-20 position until the first caution on lap 20.

Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Busch remained in the top-20 until the second caution on lap 45. The No. 41 came in for service to remedy the ill-handling racecar, but a runaway tire on pit road cost Busch several positions, causing him to restart 24th. Busch quickly gained two positions up to 22nd before he radioed the team that his car continued to lose grip coming off the corner.

A long green flag run put Busch one lap down to the leaders by lap 124, when there were only 21 cars on the lead lap as the leaders continued to set a blistering pace in the 267-lap race.

On lap 211 Busch came to pit road for a scheduled green-flag service, causing the team to fall a second lap down to the leaders. A debris caution followed on lap 221, and the Haas Automation team decided to stay out and take the wave around to gain one lap back on the leaders, but remained one lap down.

The race remained under green-flag conditions the rest of the way to the checkered flag on lap 267, causing the No. 41 to have to make one final green flag pit stop for a splash of fuel on lap 262. The final stop dropped Busch to 26th as he took the checkered flag.

“We worked hard on the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet all weekend, but we fell short of our expectations,” Busch said. “The guys all battled the best they could to get the handling of the car right. We worked with our teammates on some things and thought we had a pretty good package for Sunday, but the race conditions were a little different than what we had when we practice. The track was hot and slick, which makes the car very loose off and tight in the center. We battled that all day long but just couldn’t get the grip we needed. I know we are all committed to getting better than what we showed today. There may be some long days ahead, but I’m confident we’ll get it figured out.”

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by finishing 21st in the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, finished 33rd.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 41st. Harvick led twice for 23 laps, but an issue with a wheel hub forced him to the garage for repairs, and he finished the race 30 laps down.

Brad Keselowski won the Kobalt 400 to score his 11th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Las Vegas.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 1.530 seconds behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Paul Menard, Joey Logano and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were four caution periods for 18 laps, with only one driver failing to finish the 267-lap race.

With round three of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 14th, 50 points behind first-place Earnhardt. Stewart is 27th, 85 points out of first. Busch is 28th, 86 points out of first, and Patrick is 33rd, 97 points behind Earnhardt.

Stewart-Haas Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Danica Patrick
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Article type Race report
Tags kurt busch, las vegas, nascar-cup