News & Media

First top-10 of season has Busch flying high

March 26, 2012, Bill Kimm,

FONTANA, Calif. -- Kurt Busch knew this season wouldn't be easy. But it's one thing to struggle when you don't have good cars. When you have cars capable of running in the top 15 and the team is at the top of their game and you don't finish -- that's when things get frustrating.

"As hard as we've worked and not to see the results, it's such a genuine feeling of, 'All right, if you keep working hard good things will come.' "


In Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, the finish finally matched the effort for the No. 51 team.

Busch started 23rd and methodically worked his way through the field, never going a lap down, and brought home his first top-10 of the season with a ninth-place run in the rain-shortened event.

"It's great for this team and myself," Busch said. "As hard as we've worked and not to see the results, it's such a genuine feeling of, 'All right, if you keep working hard good things will come.' "

It hasn't been the easiest start to the season for Busch. He was involved in a crash in the season opener at Daytona and two weeks later at Las Vegas saw a potential top-10 end in disaster as well. But the No. 51 also had a 15th-place effort at Phoenix and was 18th at Bristol.

On Sunday, Busch was more than happy to finish 15th when the caution came out for rain on Lap 123. It would've matched his Phoenix result as a season-high and the team would have left with a solid points day. But six drivers decided to pit under caution and gave Busch a finish he and crew chief Nick Harrison weren't expecting.

"We stayed on the lead lap all day and we were the last car on the lead lap when this rain started," Busch said. "With us not having anything to lose by staying out we stayed out. Even if we went back green, we would have come in and been in the same position. So six guys pitted ahead of us took us from 15th to ninth."

"I really think we could've bettered our position maybe two or three spots from 15th but ninth was an upgrade from that," Harrison said. "To get out of here with a top-10, we needed a little shot in the arm so we are awfully proud of that."

The ninth-place finish moved Busch up four spots in the standings to 23rd, just three points out of the top 20. Busch knows how important finishes like Sunday are to a race team, and he is excited for his crew and the momentum built heading into next week's race in Southern Virginia.

"I think they are going to fly all the way home and not even touch the ground," Busch said. "We'll head to Martinsville and just continue to work hard. Right now I think were only three points out of 20th in points and we will just keep gaining.

"The car's going back onto the trailer without a scratch on it with a top-10 finish. That's a first for these guys this year. It was a nice solid day and everybody is pumped about this finish."'