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Late contact brings good fortune to Kurt Busch

NASCAR.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The best remedy for trouble on the race track, Kurt Busch said, is a fast car.

"And we had just that," the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion said after a fourth-place run in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch, who etched his name in the NASCAR record book as the first winner of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format back in 2004, had to fight his way through two loose wheel issues during the 500-lap race. He had to battle back after going two laps down on a track where two seconds can be an eternity.

And given his Furniture Row Racing team's difficult start to the season, the odds of leaving the 0.533-mile track with anything resembling a decent finish seemed unlikely.

Then again, he did have a fast car. 

"We were coming at the end. I mean we were bad fast," said Busch, a five-time winner at Bristol.

It was the first top five for Busch since his third-place result last year at Sonoma while driving for Phoenix Racing. It was the first top five for Furniture Row (and just the fourth in 203 starts) since former driver Regan Smith's fifth-place run at Talladega in 2012. 

Rather than erupt when the wheel issues surfaced, Busch chose to stay focused instead. Although he admitted his first thoughts were "Here's more crap," Busch said, "you just hope you can dig through it and at least post a top 10. We battled back; things went our way."

In the end, it was another on-track issue -- contact with Penske Racing driver Joey Logano ?- that allowed Busch and the team the opportunity to get set up for a late-race charge.

"We ran into Logano with less than 50 to go; we had damage and we had to pit," he said. "I'm like 'what else?' But that allowed us to be off sequence (on pit stops); we put on four fresh tires on and we battled back.

"We probably wouldn't have even put four on if we hadn't had the damage, so we had to drop back and punt. And that was the best call to make."

While he had one of the fastest cars in the closing laps of the race, what Busch didn't have was time. The previous pit stop was a necessity; unfortunately, it left him with too few laps to try and catch the lead pack of eventual race winner Kasey Kahne, runner-up Kyle Busch and defending series champ Brad Keselowski.

"We were just too far behind from the pit stop," he said. "But we had four fresh tires and we were on offense.

"And when you can put on tires and pass a lot of guys at the end of the race, it makes you feel good."

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