Kurt Busch had his best finish of 2016 with a third-place run in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but his three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates had challenges to contend with.
SHR drivers Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon both found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time at the Tennessee short track, while Danica Patrick never found the handle all weekend long.
Busch, a five-time Bristol winner, was three rows behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the start of the race when Earnhardt lost power. With everyone checking up ahead of him, Busch was forced do likewise, which put him at the tail end of the field.
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"We just battled through it," Busch said. "Junior had trouble at the start and I was 40th when we started the race."
And that made Busch's plan for the day easy: "One car at a time. One set of tires at a time," Busch said.
Eventually, Busch got to the front, leading 41 laps. But over long runs he was no match for race-winner Carl Edwards, who scored a dominating victory over Earnhardt and Busch.
"There's nothing more that I could have gotten out of the car," Busch said. "I'm really happy with the way that everybody worked together. I shouldn't be happy about finishing third, but I'll take it. It's just a great effort. And the way that this team has come together is perfect. We just need to find that last little bit."
Busch's teammates were not as sanguine about their respective races.
There were 15 cautions in the race, including five in the final 100 laps. And it seemed like on every restart, Harvick was trapped down in the bottom lane, where no one could pass all day long.
"We had the speed, but it seemed like every restart we were just struggling to make ground on the restart," said Harvick, who managed to lead 13 laps en route to a seventh-place finish.
"By the time you get to two or three spots back, you battle back to where you were and then the caution would come out again," Harvick said. "But there's nothing you can do about that. We raced hard all day and we'll go to the next one."
Dillon had even worse luck, getting caught up in contact with Landon Cassill on Lap 460. So instead of finishing inside the top 10, where he had been running, Dillon ended up 25th.
"That finish isn't indicative of how we ran today," Dillon told his team after the race. "I really appreciate how hard these guys worked this weekend, and they really deserved better. It was a great run, but it just didn't end like it should have."
As for Patrick, it was pretty much a lost weekend, as she qualified 33rd and finished 27th.
"We really just missed it all weekend with our Nature's Bakery Chevy," Patrick said. "We just never hit on anything that seemed to work. We were either tight or loose. We did hit on something there at the end where the car would turn, but still not the finish we wanted."