Season Review: Kurt Busch
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on November 27, 2013 | 7:00 A.M. EST
"It has been an amazing feeling to do it out of a little shop in Colorado and to go up against these big dogs." (Photo: Getty Images)
When the season started, few thought Kurt Busch could lead Furniture Row Racing into the Chase. No single-car team had ever done so, and this team was based in Denver, Colo., instead of the Charlotte, N.C., area, making the task even more difficult many believed. A good season was thought to be a top-20 finish in the points.
“This might be ... a David versus Goliath story,’’ Busch said about his team during the season.
Busch, crew chief Todd Berrier and the rest of the team shocked many by making the Chase. Although they struggled late in the season, they can look back upon a season built around fast cars and 10th-place finish in the points.
“It has been an amazing feeling to do it out of a little shop in Colorado and to go up against these big dogs,’’ Busch said.
He didn’t win a race this season but Busch’s 11 top-five finishes were one shy of his career high. He helped Furniture Row Racing reach a level it hadn’t. Before Busch joined late in the 2012 season, the team had three top-five finishes in 199 starts.
Busch will not be back for another season. He moves on to run a fourth car at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Martin Truex Jr., who lost his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing after NAPA pulled out, takes Busch’s seat. Truex will be joined by his pit crew, who should strengthen a weak spot with Furniture Row Racing.
Even though Busch’s time with Furniture Row Racing was brief, it was memorable.
Ten races into the season, nothing seemed extraordinary for the team. Busch was 20th in the points with three top-10 finishes.
Then came Darlington where Busch sat on the pole. Although he finished 14th, he led 69 laps.
“Our turnaround was at Darlington,’’ he said. “From there ... it has been a good run.
Busch followed that race with five top-10 finishes in the next seven races to put himself in position for a run at a Chase spot.
He earned a Chase position by scoring five top-10 finishes in the final six races of the regular season that included a runner-up at Richmond a third-place finishes at Pocono and Michigan.
Busch got some thinking about if this little team could win a championship by placing fourth in the opener at Chicagoland Speedway before their struggles. A pair of finishes outside the top 10 dimmed his chances.
He finished second at Kansas but would not place in the top 10 in the next four races - including an 18th at Talladega in a car sponsored by Wonder Bread, bringing back memories of the movie “Talladega Nights.’’
“We went the wrong way in the Chase with some of our numbers and we hurt ourself a little bit,’’ Busch said, referring to the car’s setup. “We are all looking at each other like what could have been.’’
Even though he scored a top-five finish at Kansas in his backup car after wrecking in practice, Busch cites that race as when the team went in the wrong direction with its setups.
“The car raced its way to the front,’‘ Busch said. “We weren’t going to finish second with that primary car. Well the back-up car didn’t have certain things updated on it.’’
So, the team tried to duplicate what was on that backup car in the following races.
“We still trudged through a Charlotte and Texas,’’ Busch said. “We realized we made a mistake at Dover, even Atlanta. It shows the mile and a half’s we did the wrong thing on.
“So it’s good (because) it makes it to where I feel like the team is in a better place and that Truex will benefit from that. I have to learn from that mistake so that I can keep the Stewart-Haas group from steering down that road.”
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet in Las Vegas with a look at the 9th-place finisher Greg Biffle on Thursday, Nov. 28. MRN will broadcast the Awards banquet on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. ET.