By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After running inside the top-five following the final caution, a loose wheel nearly derailed Kurt Busch’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver reported a vibration just after the restart with 60 laps to go. Over the course of the next 20 laps, that vibration continued to worsen for Busch. With 40 laps to go, the driver of the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was forced to pit under green.
When Busch pitted, he lost a lap and plummeted down the running order. The fresh tires on the Las Vegas, NV native’s Chevrolet allowed him to charge back up the running order. Driving like a man possessed, Busch made quick work of race leader, and winner, William Byron to move back onto the lead lap.
The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion methodically climbed the running order from the 29th position. It took all 39 laps for Busch to move back into the top-10. When the checkered flag waved, he had recovered to take the checkered flag in eighth.
“I’m not going to second guess having to pit.,” explained Busch. “We had a vibration, a loose wheel, and we had to pit. We unlapped ourselves and drove all the way back to eighth. It just took our chance of winning away or being up front for a final restart.
“But what a really good long-run speed car, the Monster Energy Chevy was really fast with the sun out and on long runs, so that’s the good. We just need to find our short run speed and when the track picks up pace at night.”
Busch started the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead in fifth due to NASCAR’s metric qualifying formula. A land rush restart with nine laps left in Stage 1 dropped him down to ninth. A shootout to finish the second Stage left Busch in third. Between the two stages, he netted an additional 10 points.
The eighth-place finish is the second top-10 for Busch this season and the 319th in his Cup Series career.
The top-10 also moved Busch up from eighth to sixth in the points standings. He is 35-points behind leader Denny Hamlin. Busch is 37-points ahead of the cutoff, held by both Chris Buescher and Bubba Wallace after three races.
Feature Photo Credit: NKP / NKP Photo