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Kurt Busch crashes early at Richmond

Playoff driver Kurt Busch was sidelined early in Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway, exiting after a crash in Stage 1 of the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders.

RELATED: Race results | At-track photos

Busch had led four laps in the early going, with his Chip Ganassi Racing substitute pit crew putting the No. 1 Chevrolet out first after a round of pit stops during the competition caution period. But a left-rear tire went down entering Turn 1 shortly after the restart, sending Busch’s car looping into the outside retaining wall.

“I was just impressed with our speed and the way we unloaded and (the speed) we had in that first 30-lap run,” Busch said after he was checked and released from the infield care center. “After the pit stop, something in the left-rear wasn‘t right. The guys said they got the tire tight. They made an adjustment and there was no rub and the left-rear let go. I just radioed to them how loose the car was. Something happened with that left-rear. It let go. It let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now. I don‘t know what we‘re going to have to do at Bristol other than win.”

“Hats off to everybody at Ganassi. Family, I‘m all right. But that left-rear took off on me and now we‘ve got to dig out of this hole and give it our best. Thanks to Monster. Thanks to Chevy and Ganassi. It kind of sucks.”

Busch finished last in the 37-car field, having completed just 40 of the 400 laps. One race remains in the opening Round of 16 in the Cup Series postseason — Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Busch has won six times.