Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Solid Finish Timely for Kurt Busch
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Kurt Busch began his 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign on a high note by capturing the victory in the DAYTONA 500.
While winning the biggest event of the year can often be a great kick-starter for the season, it didn’t turn out that way for the No. 41 team.
“The DAYTONA 500 win was great, but it seemed like it put us behind for awhile,” Busch told a group of reporters on pit road.
In the following 24 races, he captured two top-five and ten top-10 finishes. While it reflects a decent regular season, he hasn’t been among the top performers despite locking up a Playoff spot in the first event of the year.
That changed in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway as Busch contended for the win throughout the second half of the race and finished third.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has found the most success in major events, winning at Daytona and placing sixth in the Coca-Cola 600. Another stout run at Darlington attests to his ability to perform well under the spotlight of the sport’s biggest stages.
“Just to be in position to win the Southern 500 is great,” Busch said. “I didn’t quite get the job done, but third is really nice for a big, marquee race.”
The strong finish continues a momentous swing in the 2004 Cup Series champion’s season, marking his second consecutive top-five.
His success comes at a critical juncture with one race remaining until the Playoffs begin at Chicagoland Speedway.
“We’ve had a couple good runs, but still we got 11 weeks ahead of us,” Busch said. “We treated tonight and this whole weekend like it was the Playoffs. Richmond will be the same thing next week, and we just got to keep chiseling away.”
There are often drivers who come alive in the final ten races after not dominating the regular season. Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards advanced to the Championship 4 as surprise contenders after decent years in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Now Busch is in a position to fulfill a similar role. By viewing Darlington as a Playoff race, the No. 41 team showcased what they are capable of accomplishing this fall.
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