By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
It may not have been a win, but Kurt Busch’s 10th place finish Monday at Pocono Raceway will net him a place in NASCAR’s history book. Busch became the first driver in history to ever complete every lap of the first 21 races of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Busch’s record-breaking achievement coincidentally came after NASCAR called the Pennsylvania 400 22-laps from the finish due to unrelenting fog at the speedway.
The 2004 series champion, who won at Pocono earlier this year, gave thanks to his entire race team after climbing from his No. 41 machine on what turned out to be a historic day.
“It’s nice to be in position to have completed all the laps. That is done with a lot of team work. It’s not just one person. It starts at the shop with the quality of cars and congratulations to everybody that has helped be part of this sequence,” Busch said. “All-in-all we are finishing on the lead lap, we are finishing top 10 every week. We just know that we need to find a little bit more to be competitive once the Chase starts. All-in-all I can’t say thank you enough to everybody on the No. 41 SHR car.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. previously held the record for most races finished on the lead lap to start a season. Earnhardt, who has missed the last three races with concussion-like symptoms, finished on the lead lap in each of the first 20 races of the 2012 season. Busch matched that mark last week in Indianapolis, and early on in Monday’s race it looked like he too would fall short of reaching the 21-race milestone.
Busch, who started 15th, plummeted through the field on the opening run of the race. By lap 10, he had fallen to 23rd and it looked like a rough day was ahead for the driver. However, after some adjustments on pit road, his car began to come alive. Busch’s day could have possibly ended up even better had it not been for a handling adjustment late in the running that had an undesired effect on his race car.
“I felt like we were making all the right calls and all the right sequences on when to pit and we just had one adjustment go astray,” Busch explained. “We tried to loosen up the car with a left-rear wedge change and we ended up getting tighter. Sometimes that has happened to us this year and we just need to not fall into that pit fall and make sure we steer clear of wrong adjustments or adjustments that are questionable until we have a better handle on it.”
Even if Busch and company squandered what could have been a better finish because of a bad adjustment on pit road, there’s always a silver lining when you leave a race track with a top-10 and your name at the top of a page in the record book.