Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), turned in a dominating performance on Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway – leading six times for a race-high 291 laps – to score his first win of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and all but lock himself into the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
“It’s an incredible feeling and a total team effort,” said Busch, now a two-time Richmond winner having won the fall race in 2005. “The way that everything came together just seemed like we were building and building and building toward a great finish like this. And I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that’s part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It feels great to do this here in Richmond and to do it with Haas Automation, Chevrolet, Monster Energy, Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers and everybody that’s part of our family. Tony Gibson is just an amazing crew chief, and I’m glad I’ve got the chance to work with him. Thanks to everybody, we got it done today.”
After starting third in the rain-postponed Richmond 400, Busch took the lead for the first time on lap 95 and maintained the top spot for the next 35 circuits around the .75-mile oval. Busch would go on to exchange the lead a handful of times with his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick over the course of the next 100-plus laps, but he never dropped lower than third in the running order.
Throughout the 400-lap event Busch noted only minor issues with the handling on his No. 41 Chevrolet, specifically asking for help with short-run speed during the middle stages of the race. Busch took the front spot for the last time on lap 354, leading the final 47 trips around the Richmond oval en route to victory lane.“This win is all about the team, the people and chemistry within the organization,” Busch said. “For us the last few weeks, we’ve not given away wins, but we’ve made some small mistakes and we’ve had some things go against us that just made us stronger. It really created a bond between all of us, and we knew that the wins would come. We didn’t need to force it. We sort of just settled in for the long run and here we are – winners in April. It feels good. We have plenty of time to do fun things to build the team up, get stronger, learn from all these races coming up and continue to go forward; and like Gene Haas said, one win is great but I want four or five more.”