Playoff contender Kurt Busch’s night ends in early fiery crash at Richmond

Kurt Busch saw an early end to his race at Richmond and a big hit to his championship hopes Saturday night.

Busch took the lead thanks pit stops during a competition caution that started on lap 30. It was an impressive feat considering Busch’s crew consisted of replacements from his teammate Ross Chastain’s crew after most of Busch’s crew were forced to miss the race due to NASCAR’s COVID protocols related to contact tracing.

Busch would lead four laps before falling back and was racing to keep the third-place spot when the left rear tire in his Chevrolet let loose sending the car hard into the outside Turn 1 wall on lap 42.

“I was just impressed with our speed and the way we unloaded and (the speed) we had in that first 30-lap run,” Busch said after being cleared at the infield medical center. “After the pit stop, something in the left rear wasn’t right. The guys said they got the tire tight. They made an adjustment and there was no rub and the left rear let go. I just radioed to them how loose the car was. Something happened with that left rear. It let go. It let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now. I don’t know what we’re going to have to do at Bristol other than win.”

Busch was scored last in the 37-car field, scored with finishing 40 of the 400 laps. One race remains in the opening Round of 16 in the Cup Series Playoffs — Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Busch has won six times.

“Hats off to everybody at Ganassi,” he said. “Family, I’m alright. But that left rear took off on me and now we’ve got to dig out of this hole and give it our best. Thanks to Monster. Thanks to Chevy and Ganassi. It kind of sucks.”