For Kurt Busch, who led 15 laps before NASCAR penalized the No. 78 Chevy twice for speeding on pit road, the team’s strategy of attempting to complete the race on two pit stops dissolved quickly on Sunday at Sonoma. But the 2004 Sprint Cup champ battled back for a remarkable fourth-place finish.
“Yeah, we were fast, even on pit road — twice,” Busch said. “I messed up, flat-out.”
When Busch made a pit stop from second place on Lap 35, NASCAR issued a pass-through penalty the first time he was busted. However, when he sped again while serving the penalty, they punished Busch with a "stop-n-go."
“I didn’t hit my tachometer right, and I was speeding both times,” Busch said. “It was one of those where I’m like, ‘How does that happen?’ I just put myself in a position that was poor trying to get too much on pit road. But, man, this Furniture Row Chevy was fast.”
Busch restarted 38th following the second penalty. He was lapped by the race leader, and eventual winner, Martin Truex Jr., on Lap 54. But the team refused to give up.
“When we were running a lap down with him, I was trying to pace myself,” Busch said. “I wanted to get back on the lead lap. We did get back on the lead lap when he pitted, but we had to battle hard. We came back up through there. You’ve got to rub guys and move guys, and we gave guys room and just made one mistake.
“I think we could have gotten all the way up to second, but we never would have caught Truex. I just have to thank the Furniture Row guys. We have Simmons, Serta and Sealy as our mattress sponsors. But I got busted speeding on pit road. My bad.”
Busch’s fourth top-five finish of the season elevated the No. 78 three positions to 17th in the points standings. In 16 races this season, Busch already has exceeded the records for Furniture Row Racing with the top fives and his sixth top-10 finish of the season. Busch has led laps in seven of the last eight races.