Kurt Busch wasn’t the biggest story in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he certainly was one of the stars of the show at Thunder Valley.
True, Kasey Kahne’s victory and the post-race antics of Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano garnered the lion’s share of the headlines, but the elder of the two racing Busch brothers put on a formidable display of driving to come home fourth in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.
Busch, a five-time Bristol winner, overcame a series of adversities to give the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing squad only its fourth career top-five finish in 203 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts.
It was Busch’s best finish in 10 races with the team and his first top-five finish since he came home third on the road course at Sonoma last year. The result moved him from 29th to 16th in points, the biggest jump of any driver at Bristol.
“Considering how much we had to battle back from adversity today, the finish was even more gratifying,” said Busch. “We fell two laps down because of a loose right-rear wheel and then we suffered left-front damage near the end of the race. We battled hard, and the poor No. 78 car – she’s used up.”
It was not an easy task to rally back, but that’s exactly what Busch did.
“When you fall two laps down, it's almost like your day is over,” said Busch. “But we kept at it and got those laps back, which gave us an opportunity to make another run to the front. We had a very fast car today and to come home with a top five is exactly what we needed.”
Busch came on strongest at the end, when he needed it most. When the green flag flew on Lap 461 of 500, Busch was 13th. But he passed nine cars in the closing 40 laps to secure his top-five finish.
“We ran into Logano with less than 50 (laps) to go,” said Busch. “We had damage and had to pit. I’m like, ‘What else?’ But that allowed us to be off sequence and we put on four fresh tires and battled back. We probably wouldn’t have even put four (tires) on if we hadn’t had the damage. So we had to drop back and punt — that was the best call to make.”
For his career, Busch now has five victories, seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 25 Cup starts at Bristol.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.