DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Damage from an early wreck short-circuited Kurt Busch’s performance in Sunday’s Daytona 500 as the Furniture Row driver took the checkered flag in 28th-place.
Starting 11th in the season-opening race, Busch kept pace with the leaders and everything was going smoothly for the former NASCAR champion. But on Lap 33 of 200 Busch’s No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS took a hit in a nine-car wreck at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.
Though it appeared Busch’s car was void of any damage, it wasn’t the case when all the spinning and braking came to a halt. The grille on Busch’s car was damaged, causing the water temperature to reach unacceptable levels.
“At first I felt we escaped the wreck and were good to go,” said Busch. “But when we got back rolling, I immediately noticed the water temperature was shooting upwards and that told us the grille was damaged.”
Following the accident, Busch came into the pits as the Furniture Row crew started to repair the grille and add water to the radiator. The extra work in the pits resulted in Busch eventually falling two laps down.
The crew continued to work on the grille and just before the halfway point of the race, Busch was forced to pit under green flag conditions for additional repairs as his car was once again overheating. The green flag stop put Busch six laps down.
“Two laps down early in the race, we felt there was plenty of time to get back on the lead lap and be there at the end,” explained Busch. “But when you’re six laps down, there’s not much you can do except stay out of trouble and try to pick up as many positions as possible.”
That’s exactly what Busch did, gaining eight spots by the time the checkered flag waved.
“It was very disappointing,” said Busch. “We’re obviously a much better team than 28th on any Sunday. But it’s been a rough Speedweeks for Furniture Row Racing. Too many times we’ve been in the wrong place at the wrong time. We got collected in a practice accident on the first day, collected the next day in the Sprint Unlimited race and today was the final blow. The only race when our car wasn’t a magnet for trouble was in the qualifying race when we finished fifth.”
Busch added, “We came into the season feeling positive and upbeat and we will leave Daytona with the same attitude,” stated Busch. “We’ll be back at it in a few days (at Phoenix) and what happened in Daytona will stay in Daytona.”
The next Sprint Cup race is Sunday (March 3) at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Daytona 500 winner was Jimmie Johnson. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Regan Smith, Danica Patrick, Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley.
-Furniture Row Racing PR