FONTANA, Calif — Kurt Busch started fourth and finished third in Sunday’s Auto Club 400. But, that doesn’t tell the whole story of his afternoon at the Auto Club Speedway. Box scores rarely do.
Busch, had a great car under him. He was fast on short runs as his practice speeds of being fourth in both practice sessions on Friday and qualifying there said. The long run pace though was beneficial on Sunday. He was second on five lap averages, second and eighth on 10 laps, fifth on 15 and second on 20 lap averages in practice on Friday too.
That allowed him to rebound from missing his pit box on his stop after the first stage break to score his sixth top six finish in his last nine Fontana starts.
“We did really good to balance our Monster Energy Chevy on short run speed, and long run speed,” Busch said following his first top 20 finish of the season. “Being able to maneuver on re-starts is something that I’ve been harping on. Making sure we get better when we’re in dirty air. And to come away with a third place finish, that gains a lot of points back for us and I feel really good about the way the car handled this weekend. So, whatever we can do to baseline this, is what we’ve got to do moving forward.”
Busch, said that his No. 1 Chevrolet was quick from the get go this weekend but knew that they had nothing for race winner Alex Bowman.
“As soon as his car unloaded, he was super fast. We were all trying to figure out what it was. But he did the job. As a team, they did their job. And he executed to put a Chevy in Victory Lane.”
Busch, said that the only thing missing on his end was a little more grip. If he had some, he may have had something for Bowman in the end.
“We just had different trends,” Busch continued. “The car would be wide-open for five laps and I’d be really fast after Lap 20. So, if I can narrow it down, I just need to work on that transition from wide-open to that partial throttle and then be able to maneuver through the draft.”