DOVER, Del. – Kurt Busch entered the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff buoyed by three straight top-five finishes and looked to be a lock to advance to the Round of 12.
Then his season fell apart. At Chicagoland, it was a loose wheel and a pit road speeding penalty.
At New Hampshire, it was a race-ending wreck in a dense cloud of smoke, after Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick was turned in front of him.
And on Sunday at Dover, it was an ill-handling car on long runs, an inopportune caution that trapped Busch two laps down and a subsequent commitment line violation.
The result math wasn’t pretty, and Busch was eliminated from the Playoff.
“Yeah, disappointed in the way that I drove all through this playoff run,” said Busch, whose 2017 highlight came in the season-opening Daytona 500, which he won. “I was driving at 101 percent, trying to get every ounce of speed out of it. It just never had a flow for three races.
“The wreck last week really put us in a hole. We needed a perfect day today and playoff stage points. We just really never did well in Stage 1, and I thought that it might be our Achilles heel. If we add up the numbers (that’s) probably where it was. I can’t fault anybody. We ran hard. We gave it everything we had.”