Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was unable to survive the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish in the Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and finished 31st.
Busch started 13th and ran in the top-15 for the majority of the night – as high as seventh on several occasions – at the 1.366-mile oval. Crew chief Daniel Knost and Busch agreed on a two-tire strategy for the team’s final pit stop on lap 361, when the No. 41 came in 12th and restarted ninth. Busch was able to keep the Haas Automation Chevrolet in the ninth position until the next caution on lap 365. The entire field stayed out and set up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
As Busch took the green flag on lap 369 for the first attempt at the green-white-checkered, the car immediately behind him made contact with the rear bumper of the No. 41 car, forcing a slide into the inside wall that caused enough damage to prevent Busch from finishing the event.
“That was a terrible way to end what could have been a decent night,” Busch said. “We struggled at times to get the balance of the Haas Automation Chevrolet right, but we kind of found our spot just past the halfway point and made slight adjustments the rest of the way. We called for a two-tire stop at the end hoping to gain some track position, but it seemed like everyone had the same idea. We gained a little, but the guys behind us all had four tires. I tried to hold them off the best I could, but someone moved me out of their way and it ruined our night. I hate it for the team, but we keep learning each week and we will get better.”