After winning the pole for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Kurt Busch liked his chances in the race, and, indeed, his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford started strong.
Busch led the first 46 laps, holding it for 19 circuits after taking right-side tires only under caution on Lap 27. But on Lap 47, Ryan Blaney passed him for the top spot, and Busch dropped from second to seventh from an inside-lane position after a Lap 60 restart to end Stage 1.
He never regained the lead. Busch was third off pit road behind teammates Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick under yellow on Lap 122, and that’s where he finished when rain forced NASCAR to call the race 11 laps later. It was another strong run for the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, but it wasn’t a victory. A Stewart-Haas sweep of the podium positions provided some consolation.
“We’ve been consistent this year,” Busch said. “We haven’t had that super perfect all-star type day. We’ve chiseled away at being consistent, not making mistakes, and our day will come. We just have to put ourselves in position more often.
“One of the times off pit road I came out fourth and then a car stayed out in front of us, that put me to the fifth spot (and in an inferior spot on the inside lane). I’m like, ‘Well, one of those times when things just don’t quite go your way.’ We had a fast car. Again, it’s easy to smile and go into this off week and celebrate a Stewart-Haas 1-2-3. It’s very special.”