CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kurt Busch’s seventh speeding penalty of the season could have sunk his title hopes in the first Chase for the Sprint Cup championship race.
He clearly had a top-10 car when he headed to pit road early in Sunday’s race at Chicago, and that speeding penalty assessed on Lap 80 dropped him to 35th in the field.
It also made him pretty angry, since Busch was convinced he was not speeding.
“Chicago was a bogus thing in my mind,” Busch said.
“My tach was green all the way down pit road,” he added. “There’s times when it might flicker red and then you hold your breath to see if you’re going to get by the police, in a sense. Chicago was all green, never expected to be called in, and we were.”
It was still bugging him when the race stopped for rain 30 laps later and Busch grumbled about it as he drove his Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet down pit road. But he had a five-plus hour rain delay to get over it, and did, rallying to an astonishing fourth-place finish.
Busch heads into Sunday’s race at New Hampshire tied for fifth in the Chase standings, 23 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. The speeding penalties are a concern, and Busch conceded his team needs to be careful the remaining nine races.
“We’re setting our pit road tachometer too aggressively and too close to the margin, so we just have to be more conservative,” he said. “The thing that has to be clear internally with Furniture Row Racing is that the guy setting the tach isn’t going conservative on his own, and then I’m going doubly conservative to make sure we’re not too conservative once we’re out performing, because we have to perform in this Chase.