Darlington, S.C. (May 11, 2013) — After starting on the pole and leading a race total of 69 laps, Kurt Busch slipped to a 14th-place finish in Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
The finish lifted Busch two spots in the driver points standings from 20th to 18th and his 69 laps led is a team record for most laps led in a race. Busch has now led a total of 108 laps in 11 races this season. Prior to the 2013 season, Furniture Row Racing drivers led a total of 48 laps in 199 races.
Busch’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet SS started strong, leading the first 51 laps of the race. But as the race wore on Busch gradually started to lose the handling of his car.
“We were wicked free and could not keep up with the changing conditions of the track,” said Busch. “We made a number of chassis and air pressure adjustments but couldn’t get the car hooked up.”
At one point of the race Busch radioed the crew to explain how loose the car was in the corners. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s an 11.”
What made the handling of the Furniture Row car even more difficult late in the race was right-side damage as a result of getting hit by Casey Mears’ No. 13 car when it lost control on the 1.366-mile oval.
“Kurt fought hard throughout the race, but we just couldn’t overcome the handling issue,” said crew chief Todd Berrier. “After winning the pole, we were looking for a better performance tonight.”
Busch ran in the top-five for approximately the first 150 laps and in the top-10 for the first 240 laps.
“We let it slip away and that’s disappointing,” said Busch about the 367-lap race. “But we won the pole, led laps, ran up front for a good portion of the race and came away with a respectable finish.”
The race winner was Matt Kenseth. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman.
There were nine lead changes among four drivers and five cautions for 25 laps.
The next race is the non-points Sprint All Star Race, Saturday night (May 18) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.