Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), brought home his second-consecutive top-five finish of the 2015 season Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, in the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was also his second-consecutive third-place finish on the 2-mile oval.
Busch started from the pole and led six times for a race-high 65 laps. It was his seventh top-five in 22 career Sprint Cup starts at Fontana.
“We had a great Haas Automation Chevy today,” Busch said. “It was fantastic to drive. We just got hung out on the yellows at the end. When do you pit to put four tires on, when do you pit to put two tires on? That last restart I just didn’t get the job done. Brad (Keselowski) out-muscled us with four tires.”
Busch maintained position inside the top-five for the majority of the race despite struggling with handling issues that at times saw his Haas Automation Chevrolet tight in the corners and at other times loose on exit. Crew chief Tony Gibson called for minor adjustments each time Busch came to pit road to keep up with changing track conditions, which enabled him to maintain his presence at or toward the front of the field.
By the halfway point, the Haas Automation Chevrolet was scored as the race leader, and Busch would do battle with Matt Kenseth and teammate Kevin Harvick for much of the remainder of the race.
After debris on the racetrack forced NASCAR to display the caution flag on lap 185, Busch would come to pit road to take on four tires. When the race restarted on lap 189, Busch was able to reclaim the lead. He would hold the spot until lap 198, when debris on the racetrack again forced NASCAR to display the caution flag. Busch came to pit road with most of the lead-lap drivers in tow to take on right-side tires, but when he returned to the racetrack, he would line up fourth as Jeff Gordon, Busch’s SHR teammate Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle opted to stay out. Busch was able to get the lead once again on the restart, but when Kyle Larson’s rear bumper cover flew off his racecar, the caution flag waved yet again.
Busch would line up for the final green-white-checkered attempt as the leader, but he made contact with the wall on the final lap, which allowed Keselowski and Harvick to pass his Haas Automation Chevrolet. Busch would take the checkered flag in the third position.“The Haas Automation Chevy was fast,” Busch said. “Thanks to State Water Heaters, Mobil 1, Chevrolet, Monster Energy and all of our great sponsors. It was a solid day. I don’t know what we could have done different. We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn’t need that extra yellow at the end, and I just got out-muscled by Keselowski.”