Kurt Busch and the Haas Automation team appeared at times to be on their way to recording a solid finish in Sunday’s 21st Annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but an ill-timed caution period following a scheduled green-flag pit stop saw the No. 41’s forward progress halted and left with a less-than-desired 28th-place finish when the checkered flag waved.
Busch started seventh and was a mainstay at the front of the field, despite struggling with a racecar that was loose on corner exit. Due to varying pit strategies, Busch found himself running 38th following a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 39. As his competitors began making their scheduled stops, the Las Vegas-native had climbed to the 17th position before being called to pit road once again for a scheduled pit stop. It was after that stop that issues arose to drastically change the No. 41 team’s day.
The primary issue came under the second caution of the race at lap 69. Busch had just pitted under green-flag conditions to take on four tires, fuel and wedge and track-bar adjustments to fix a tight-center, loose-off handling condition. As he made his way off pit road, the No. 10 car of his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Danica Patrick experienced a part failure that saw her racecar smoke badly as she too made her way off pit road. After her car stalled on the racetrack, NASCAR was forced to display the caution flag. With the leaders not yet having made their way to pit road, the Haas Automation Chevrolet was scored one lap down when the field resumed racing on lap 73.
Busch fell to 34th in the running order after the poorly timed incident. With extended green-flag runs dominating the second half of the event, he was unable to regain the position he’d lost at one of the most track-position-critical facilities on the Sprint Cup Series schedule.