Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), scored a 12th-place finish for the second straight week on Saturday night in the Kentucky 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. It also marked the fourth consecutive top-15 finish for the Haas Automation team and its sixth of the season.
Busch started ninth but fought an ill-handling condition in the early going to fall as far as17th before a caution on lap 125. Once the caution flag waved, Busch brought the No. 41 to pit road for adjustments, and he restarted 20th on lap 130. The adjustments made by crew chief Daniel Knost and team showed immediate results as the No. 41 raced to 14th just past halfway of the 267-lap event.
The following pit stop on lap 153 allowed Knost to employ a two-tire strategy to improve Busch’s track position. The call worked as planned, enabling Busch to restart in the 12th position. The two-tire call also improved the handling of the No. 41 and saw Busch produce some of his fastest laps of the night as he raced up to the eighth position.
Busch brought the No. 41 to pit road under caution again on lap 180 for a four-tire stop, while the top nine cars stayed out and several others made two-tire stops. The call dropped Busch from eighth to 17th for the restart, but tire strategy again proved beneficial as the No. 41 quickly made up ground and raced to the ninth position by the final caution on lap 213.
After the final four-tire stop of the night, Busch restarted 12th on lap 218. He raced up to ninth by lap 233, but the No. 41 struggled to maintain position for the remaining laps with worn tires and ill handling, dropping Busch back to 12th by the checkered flag.
“It was an okay night for the Haas Automation team,” Busch said. “We’ve found some consistency, which is a good thing, but we need to take that next step. We’ve visited four very different tracks the last four weeks and come back with decent finishes inside the top-15, but I think we’d love to start seeing more of those top-5 finishes or wins. We are working on it and finding new things each week, so hopefully that breakthrough is right around the corner.”