Crash in final practice knocks Kurt Busch off front row

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 14: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, talks with a crew member during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 14, 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kurt Busch was a mere .002 seconds behind Kyle Busch in Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway.

On Saturday, however, a wall came between the brothers, who no longer will start side-by-side on the front row for Sunday’s Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Up until the final 10 minutes of final practice, the weekend had gone nearly perfectly for Kurt Busch, who was set to be part of a 1-2 start with his pole-winning brother for the third time. Then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

Busch was fourth fastest in Happy Hour, but on his 70th lap of the session, his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford lost traction in Turn 2, spun sideways, slid down the backstretch and nosed into the inside SAFER barrier near the entrance to Turn 3.

With damage too severe to repair, Busch will be forced to start Sunday’s race in a backup car. That also means dropping to the rear of the field before the green flag.

“Sorry, guys,” Busch said on his radio after the wreck. “I was just trying to get everything.”

After exiting the car, Busch provided a post-mortem.

“I had 45 laps on the tires and was trying to get to 50, Busch explained. “The setup changes dramatically with air-pressure builds and the VHT (traction compound) changing, so I was just trying to do as much research as I could.

“The lap times were really good in the car and then, boom, there’s just no forgiveness right now with how many variables there are.”

Crew chief Billy Scott was busy harvesting items to transfer from the primary car to the backup.

“The (backup) car will be just as good,” Scott said. “We’ve just got to sort out all the parts and pieces to put on it.”

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