Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway by finishing third in the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The race was delayed one day due to rain and then ended after 112 of the scheduled 160 laps due to more moisture.
Busch started 40th and managed to avoid an early 16-car wreck on the frontstretch to move from 38th up to the 14th position. After the restart, Busch used the outside lane to move from 14th up to fourth by the next caution on lap 40. By lap 60 Busch had taken the lead for the first time. He maintained the lead position until a green-flag pit stop on lap 86. Following the pit cycle, Busch returned to the lead from lap 89 until a lap-97 restart following a debris caution.
On the restart, Busch lost his drafting help and fell to fourth just before a 26-car wreck led to a brief red flag on lap 97. Once the race resumed, Busch worked his way back to the lead for the final time on lap 105 as rain approached the racetrack. The No. 41 was working the outside lane attempting to regain the lead when the race was red-flagged for the final time on lap 112.
Busch led three times for a race-high 36 laps before he scored his fourth top-five this season and his 11th top-five in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Daytona. It was also his 104th top-five in 489 career Sprint Cup starts.
“I thought we had a good finish today,” Busch said. “You know, I'd love to be out there racing and competing for the win, and the car ran strong. We dominated, led most laps, and the Haas Automation ‘America’s Machine Tool’ Chevy was a good car right from the time it was completed and shoved into the wind tunnel, and those guys really did a good job back at the shop to prepare the No. 41 for all the speed that you need here at Daytona.
“We executed well on pit road. Again, we led a lot of laps today and thought we were in good position, and when you're racing knowing that there's weather in the area, it's best to be in that lead position because that gives you the best shot at when the rain does come and if they do call the race, that you're the leader. Most importantly, though, we've made a good turn on the No. 41 car the last month with good solid finishes. Today it's disappointing to finish third after leading the most laps, but all in all, looking at the long-term projection, it's been solid on the No. 41 car, and it was great to run good Daytona weekend.”