Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-25):
● Kurt Busch started 17th, finished 21st.
● Worked way into the top-15 by lap nine despite saying he was loose on forward drive, then “tight to the right with no forward bite.”
● Wedge and air-pressure adjustments on first pit stop while under caution on lap 15 helped the handling issues.
● Restarted in 27th position and fought his way up to 14th.
● Came into the pits on lap 23, but Busch saw the red “closed pit” light illuminate just as he committed to the pit lane. He had to roll through without stopping, returning to the race in 23rd. Picked up two spots by the end of the stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 26-50):
● Started 30th, finished 23rd.
● Made further wedge and air pressure adjustments that again helped handling issues.
● Worked his way all the way up to sixth place nearing the end of the stage, then called into the pits on lap 47 for tires and fuel.
● Resumed in 23rd and held that position to the stage’s end.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 51-110):
● Started ninth, finished seventh.
● Steadily worked his way up to third when called to the pits for his last scheduled stop on lap 70. Resumed in ninth.
● Was back in the top-five on lap 81 and up to fourth on lap 93 when Busch reported the left-rear tire was going down. The unscheduled pit stop for four new tires dropped Busch to 17th.
● Picked off 10 positions over the final 17 laps to salvage a seventh-place finish.
● This was Busch’s 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start at Sonoma and his 592nd career start.
● Busch’s seventh-place finish in the Save Mart 350k was his ninth top-10 at Sonoma and his eighth top-10 this season.
● Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick won the Save Mart 350k to score his 36th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Sonoma. Harvick crossed the finish line ahead of second-place and fellow SHR teammate Clint Bowyer as the race ended under caution, giving SHR its third 1-2 finish in company history.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 12 laps.
● Twenty-three of the 38 drivers in the Save Mart 350k finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Larson leads the championship standings with 659 points and has a 13-point margin over his nearest pursuer, Martin Truex Jr.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Had a left-rear question, if it was going down or not, and I went through four right-handers trying to make the call if the left-rear was going to go down. I don’t know, I might have messed up a Stewart-Haas 1-2-3. I’m happy for Kevin and Bowyer. We were about a third-place car. We were hanging with Denny (Hamlin) and Kyle (Busch) most of the day, but I had to pit just to make sure. We went from 17th back up to seventh. It was a good charge at the end. I just couldn’t get that top-five we needed for Monster Energy, Haas Automation and Ford. But those guys, love them to death, and we’re going to keep plugging away.”