Kurt Busch had a strong showing in the Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
“I would call it a really good effort,” Busch said of his night. “The lap times were there. We were running second at halfway. As the night progressed, different weaknesses show up. This was a new setup underneath the car. It’s tough to know exactly how to dial it in when you are working with something that’s totally new.”
The driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) started 11th and worked his way into sixth place by the lap-25 competition caution. Despite battling a racecar that was tight into and loose off of the corners, his orange-and-black machine was a mainstay within the top-five of the running order for the first half of the 334-lap race.
After making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 188, Busch radioed that the handling of his racecar was twice as loose on corner exit. Despite the setback, he was able to maintain position inside the top-five. But a pit road miscue during a caution period on lap 238 hampered Busch’s efforts. A hung lugnut on the right-front wheel stud cost Busch extra time on pit road. Instead of restarting among the top-five, Busch restarted ninth.
Trapped in dirty air, Busch found his handling woes exaggerated. Crew chief Daniel Knost called for chassis adjustments on each scheduled pit stop, but the changes were not enough to return the State Water Heaters Chevrolet to its previous form.
When the caution flag waved on lap 329, Busch and Knost agreed to hit pit road for right-side tires. The No. 41 lined up 11th for the lap-332 restart, and despite his best effort, Busch was unable to improve his position over the final two laps.
“It was a free-for-all at the end,” Busch said. “We were running eighth, we came in for right-side tires and ended up finishing 11th, so that maybe wasn’t the right call. But all in all, it was nice to run up front with the guys tonight in our State Water Heaters Chevrolet and to show a turn in the right direction from where we had been running.”
Busch’s teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Saturday night by winning the Bank of America 500. It was the 23rd points-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s fourth this season.