Kurt Busch Close, But No Million

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), looked to be in position to score his second career victory in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Saturday night, but eventual race winner Denny Hamlin appeared to get a jump on the final restart and went on to lead every lap en route to claiming the final segment. Busch, who won the race in 2010, had to settle for a third-place finish.

Busch started 16th and was able to advance to the fifth position to end the first of the four 25-lap segments. He followed the rest of the leaders to pit road for a four-tire stop at the conclusion of the segment, and quick work by the Haas Automation team allowed him to maintain the position for the start of segment two. Despite being “just a little too loose on exit,” Busch was able to finish the second segment in the second position.

Busch continued to display the strength of his Haas Automation Chevrolet, finishing third in the third segment. He took the lead on lap 77 of the final 25-lap segment, and went on to earn the win. With the field placed under caution before the final segment, the running order was set based on drivers’ average finish in the first four segments, so Busch was in second as he made the mandatory four-tire pit stop before the fifth and final segment. Busch came off pit road third behind Brad Keselowski, but when Keselowski was deemed too fast on pit road and was sent to the tail of the field, Busch regained second place for the restart. Busch felt that the leader Hamlin got an early start when the green flag waved, and expecting that a restart would be called, Busch was overtaken by teammate Kevin Harvick. He was unable to mount a challenge over the closing laps and was forced to settle for a third-place finish when the checkered flag waved.

“What a great night for the Haas Automation Chevy,” Busch said. “We won a segment, but not the important one. We performed well, didn’t finish worse than fifth in any segment. The pit crew was great on pit road, we just didn’t deliver tonight. I don’t know why we are standing here third. I thought we had a better car than that.”