Following his dramatic, come-from-behind fourth-place finish in Sunday night’s Sprint Cup Series race, Kurt Busch radioed his Furniture Row Racing team and shouted, “We’re still in it boys, we’re still in it. On to Richmond!”
The fourth place result in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway moved Busch from 12th to 10th in the driver standings. He is six points ahead of 11th. The top-10 in points qualify for the 10-race Chase playoffs along with two-wildcard entries. The final pre-Chase race is Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
“We control our own destiny, don’t have to work from behind and that’s exactly where we want to be going into Richmond,” said Busch, who is in position to become the first driver to qualify for the Chase from a single-car team.
Busch, who started the 325-lap, 500-mile race from the back of the field in the 32nd spot, moved up the field in a short period of time in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet SS. But he seemed to be stuck between 10th and 15thplace in track position.
“We had handling problems, but our Furniture Row guys never gave up,” explained Busch, who scored his seventh top-five and 12th top-10 of the season. “We made some major swings with the setup throughout the race and I can’t believe we finished with a top-five. We didn’t have a top-five car tonight but that one restart turned things around for us.”
The restart that Busch referred to came on Lap 293 when he once again demonstrated his extraordinary driving prowess by picking up nine spots – from 11th to second – in one lap.
“I can’t tell you what I did right, but it all went right,” noted Busch, who did a similar driving feat two weeks ago in Michigan where he gained eight spots in one lap and eventually finished third.
Busch had a shot to take the lead from his younger brother Kyle during a Lap 298 restart, but the slippery outside lane wasn't to his advantage.
“The inside lane was definitely the preferred lane on restarts and I didn’t realize how bad the outside lane was until I got to try it on the outside of Kyle,” said Busch. “I could not put the power down up there. The inside (lane) versus the outside was a tremendous difference. I thought I had something for Kyle but that outside lane was like ice."
Busch added, "Right now we’re looking ahead because our single-car team is in position to accomplish something that has never been done since the Chase began (in 2004).”
The race winner was Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers.
The race had 28 lead changes among 13 drivers and nine cautions for 47 laps.