Pit road snafu derails Kurt Busch’s strong run at Magic Mile

LOUDON, NH - JULY 22: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 22, 2018 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch started from the pole in Sunday’s Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and led a race-high 94 laps, but a miscue on pit road during a green-flag stop on Lap 227 of 301 cost him a chance to score his first victory of the season.

Busch rolled down pit road toward the No. 1 stall, but Ryan Blaney’s Ford was already parked in the stall immediately behind Busch’s. The jack dropped on Blaney’s car, and Busch’s crew chief, Billy Scott, yelled “Stop” over the radio, think that Blaney was on the verge of leaving his stall.

But Blaney didn’t move, as a courtesy to Busch, and after losing several precious seconds, Busch proceeded to his pit box. But the damage was done. Busch was running fifth when he returned to the track, and subsequent restarts in the bottom lane cost him even more positions.

Busch finished eighth in a car that was capable of running with the best.

“We ended up (pitting) on the same lap as Blaney,” Busch said. “That’s just bad luck or bad communication between two crew chiefs. And then the crew chief is like, ‘He’ll be gone by the time you get there.’ And I initially thought that, and then they were still hanging left-side tires and I was like, ‘Oh no, oh no. He’s gonna be there.

“If I would have come around him, I would have blocked him huge. I would have been at a bad angle, and that was just one of those ‘We’re two guys walking down the hallway, and we bumped into each other and had to hold each other up.’ That just kind of pushed us back too far on the final restart, and I didn’t get a good last restart.

“If we could have come off pit road in fourth, it might have been a whole different race. I think that might have been where (race winner Kevin) Harvick might have been or the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.), but we were in the mix today. That’s what counts. We had a Playoff type of day today.”

The bottom line?

“You just aren’t supposed to pit on the same lap they do under green,” Busch said. “That was a fundamental mistake.”

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