Since winning the Daytona 500, the 2017 season has been a rollercoaster of a ride for Kurt Busch and his No. 41 team, with the team getting on streaks of top-10 finishes, but following those up with streaks of sub-par finishes.
Saturday night at Bristol, it was a rollercoaster of a ride all over again for Busch.
Starting the day in 25th, Busch, who won his first career Cup Series race on the Bristol high banks, struggled with handling issues in the early going, but when the race reached the halfway point, things started to look up for the 2004 series champion as he began to make up some ground.
Unfortunately, Busch pushed a little too hard, making contact with the SAFER barrier in Turn 4 on lap 272. He would be able to continue on in the race, but it would take a little time for him to be able to regain his composure and start moving forward again.
By lap 363, Busch made his first appearance in the top-10 and he wasn’t done.
As the laps wound down, he picked off driver after driver, eventually cracking the top-five with 61 laps to go and moving into fourth a couple of laps later. Once he climbed to fourth, that’s where he would stay for the remainder of the race, notching his best finish since Pocono in June and his second top-10 in the last three races.
“We’ve been struggling with the VHT on the bottom, so I just knew we needed to wait and wait and wait, and I was hopeful at lap 250 that it would come to us,” said Busch. “I pushed it too hard then and got some right-front tire damage on the fender. We had to work through that, but I think at the end we got in position because Tony Gibson made a good call and put us on fresher tires than the competition and it was the old fun Bristol for me. So I’m really proud of this Monster Energy Ford — to be first in class, to get a top-five in my 600th start, and to see the lead with 50 to go.”
With a playoff spot locked down courtesy of his Daytona win, Busch noted that he still has the fire to compete for a championship, even as he made his 600th career start on Saturday night.
“I’m not an old bull,” Busch added. “I’m ready to fight these young guys and put up a good battle. If we run like this in the playoffs we’ll be good.”