By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
A late-race caution and early contact with the wall hindered Kurt Busch’s chances in the FireKeeper’s Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
The 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion drafted with Martin Truex Jr. as the duo attempted to catch Joey Logano. With five laps to go in the scheduled distance, the two drivers had caught Logano. Just as they prepared to make a run, the caution waved for a spin by Erik Jones.
On the restart, Logano easily cleared Truex. Busch’s No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 cruised by Truex as the field took the white flag. He tried everything to catch the defending series champion. Without enough laps remaining, Busch took the checkered in second, just two car lengths behind Logano.
“That was the tightest I ever pulled my belts at the end of a race because we’ve got enough stage points,” Busch explained. “Today, it was like hell, we don’t need to get anything but the win. And, we got second today. Logano’s car was tough. I really wanted it to go green at the end and push Truex through to the No. 22 (Logano). That was my best shot at it.
“What a day for our Camaro, Chevy and Monster. This gives us reason to smile and be happy. We ran up front. We were strong. We were in our manufacturer’s backyard but got second today.”
Early in the race, Busch broke loose as he exited turn two. He caught the outside wall with the right rear before regaining control. The slide hurt his momentum, as well as Kevin Harvick who was behind him. The damage appeared to be minimal as Busch quickly moved into the top-five.
Post-race, Busch looked at his right rear before he expressed his thoughts on the damage.
“That’s more than what I was hoping to see, for damage. But I had a blast.”
The second-place finish is the fourth top-five for Busch this season and the 141st of his 19-year career. It’s his first top-five since Bristol Motor Speedway, where he also finished runner-up 10 weeks ago.
Busch remained eighth in the championship points standings, 129-points behind points leader Logano. He is also 121-points ahead of the cutoff for the playoffs, currently held by Jimmie Johnson.