Kurt Busch excited by progress of Fords at Stewart-Haas

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 09: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Axalta presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 9, 2017 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

LONG POND, Pa. –  Kurt Busch was trying to take the next step last Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Unfortunately, it was his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Ford that decided to step out before Busch could make a move.

“We’ve been cranking out top 10s, but we haven’t been cranking out top fives, so I was pushing really hard last week and the car stepped out,” said Busch, who collected fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski in an early wreck at the Monster Mile.

“I took it beyond its limits, and it’s because we’re right there. We’re solid top-10 when things go our way, but we’re not top-five, and that’s what I’m pushing for.”

The wreck at Dover, however, doesn’t overshadow the progress Stewart-Haas has made as the organization goes through growing pains after this season’s transition from Chevrolet to Ford. As the defending champion of Sunday’s Pocono 400, Busch is excited to return to the triangular 2.5-mile track.

“Our expectations are high, but we have to keep them in perspective,” Busch said. “Yes, we have run well the last few weeks, and it’s been a matter of changing the car’s dynamic balance as far as our setup to match the aero changes.

“We’ve found some things in the wind tunnel that have helped us understand the difference with our Ford versus where we were at this time last year with the GM car, and so balancing those things has helped us, and I think we turned a good corner at Texas (where Busch started a run of four top 10s in six races).

“This is a great track for us to come back to because we won here last time, and it’s one of my favorites. So balancing out where we are with the team, the setups and if we can get a top-5 this week, that would be great. But, of course, we’re going for the win.”

Friday afternoon, Busch put down his best qualifying effort of the season. He will start fifth at Pocono Sunday.