JOLIET, Ill. — If not for an inopportune late-race caution period Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway , Kurt Busch might've had the come-from-behind victory in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener that instead went to Denny Hamlin . The consolation prize was still a positive one, another character-building moment in a season stocked with them to kick off the playoffs. Busch rallied from early trouble, then survived a rock 'em-sock 'em restart with five laps remaining to get his Chase off to a solid start, collecting a third-place finish in the first of 10 postseason events. It wasn't quite the win that would have automatically transferred him to the round of 12, but it provided a slight buffer and more substantial confidence booster on a day when most playoff-eligible drivers avoided catastrophe. Busch took the lead for the final time at Lap 245 of 267 and appeared headed for victory when the yellow flag flew for debris. His crew chief, Tony Gibson, ordered Busch to keep his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 out to keep his position, making the former premier series champ one of just three lead-lap drivers -- the others being Hamlin and Jeff Gordon -- to shun pit road. "You hope it goes green to the end and a yellow popped out," Busch said. "The crew chief's like, 'let's stay out,' and I'm like, 'yeah, I think that'll work,' but you've got to remember these restarts, we're so boxed in and if somebody's got a little bit fresher grip to gain momentum on a restart, they're going to jump on you. So Jeff left the inside open, let the guys with fresh tires get to the inside, and it was a tough battle after that. But real proud of our team to bring it home third." Gibson wasn't second-guessing his decision to keep his driver on the track, saying that the tires for the eventual race winner were just as worn as Busch's . "I figured a lot of them were going to do the opposite of whatever I do, so you're kind of a sitting duck anyway," Gibson said. "I pit and take on four (tires) and come out fourth or fifth; in five laps, can I make it through all that crap and make it back? Those are the things you've got to think about, but I don't regret what I did. I think at the time with the information that I had, guys were talking on the radio about they're going to do the opposite of what I do, so I'm screwed either way." Busch initially expressed his surprise with the strategy call over the team's radio, saying, "I can't believe we stayed out." Post-race on pit road, Busch struck a tone of solidarity when discussing his veteran crew chief's decision. "Gibson said stay out and we work as a team," Busch said. "We win as a team; we lose as a team. Great points day." But beyond the decisive restart was a day of resilience. Busch pitted on the 87th lap after scraping the wall with a flat right-rear tire. A long green-flag run helped Busch to eventually return to the lead lap and to sync up with the same pit-stop cycle as the other front-runners. Gibson & Co. gave the car a once-over on its next stop, checking a spot of concern on the right-side fenders. Any damage was minimal; by Lap 184, Busch took the lead for the first time, remaining a force for the rest of the day. "We never give up, and we've had great finishes this year with Kurt when we've had things happen, but we're able to rally back and get good finishes," Gibson said. "That's usually what wins championships. The 48 (six-time champion Jimmie Johnson ) does it a lot. That was our game plan coming into today, and it's still our game plan when we leave." With playoff-eligible drivers taking eight of the top nine spots in Sunday's myAFibRisk.com 400 , there was little movement in the upper reaches of the Chase standings. But Busch is firmly there, ranking fifth in a top 10 that's separated by just 14 points. Last season, Busch was among the first four drivers eliminated when the field was pared to 12 after the opening Challenger Round. Next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , the former series champion aims to further solidify his footing at a track where he's won three times. "Led some laps, showed some strength, so we'll take that on to Loudon," Gibson said of the series' next race. "As long as you transfer to the next round, it doesn't matter how many you've won. You can win two of these first ones and still get knocked out in the second round. We're trying to build momentum and build steam and confidence, and today was the day we did that."
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. '1989' Singer Ryan Adams released his highly anticipated cover of Taylor Swift's entire "1989" album on Monday. The Internet soon became buzzing, as people around the world tuned into lovely acoustic versions of "Bad Blood", "Blank Space" and "Wildest Dreams." Ryan Adams’ cover of “1989” is here, and it’s really, really good. http://t.co/p2QZgJw3U0 pic.twitter.com/jVqbckASVv — USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 21, 2015 Even T-Swift herself was excited, tweeting a meme of her cat waiting for the album to drop. The biggest question, though: What will the Swifties think? Jimmie Johnson might be a good place to start since his daughter Evie is a big fan of the pop singer. RELATED: Johnson sings Taylor Swift Jimmie -- we know you've danced to "Shake it Off" a time or two when a race doesn't go your way. ... But come to think of it, another T-Swift tune may apply more to your current situation with Kevin Harvick . RELATED: Harvick shoves Johnson post-race 2. Where's Prince William? All royalty aside, Prince William blends in pretty well in a crowd. At least a crowd full of Welsh rugby players decked in similar navy suits, white shirts and maroon ties. The @WelshRugbyUnion team are in full voice at their @rugbyworldcup Cap presentation by the Duke of Cambridge https://t.co/RCRdMBHONl — Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) September 21, 2015 The Duke of Cambridge with @George_North and @mikephillips009 after their @WelshRugbyUnion #RWC2015 cap presentation pic.twitter.com/Nml7F1qSlL — Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) September 21, 2015 All he's missing is a hat, which ironically looks quite similar to the Victory Lane hats. Reminds us of another photobomb that happened earlier this season. Ahem, Dale Jr. One of these doesn't look like these other! Best #photobomb ever! @DaleJr pic.twitter.com/Jgk9189pVB — Donna Richeson (@donna_richeson) March 3, 2015 Maybe Dale should have taken some advice from William and dressed like the No. 48 guys to blend in. Next time. RELATED: 'Casm presents Dale Jr.’s best photobombs 3. If not you ... then who? Let's be honest: Each and every one of the 16 Chase drivers wants that championship title for their individual team. But if they had to pick someone else to hoist that championship trophy over their heads at Homestead, who would they choose? 120 Sports recently asked several of the drivers that very question, acquiring many entertaining responses (we can certainly tell who the older sibling is between Kurt and Kyle Busch ). 4. I wanna go fast Professional soccer player Robert Lewandowski is fast. Like, Ricky Bobby fast. The Bayern Munich forward came off the bench in a game against Wolfsburg on Tuesday to score five goals in nine minutes, setting a Bundesliga record -- and impressing the Twitter-verse. Robert Lewandowski just scored 5 goals in less than 10 minutes. Premier League leading scorer has 5 total for season. — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 22, 2015 Well, Robert, you've got us there. No NASCAR driver has won five races in nine minutes. Buuuuuut Kyle Busch did manage to win four of five straight races earlier this year. We'd say that counts. 5. Chase take-aways Last weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway marked the opening event for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . And as we saw last season, the win-and-you're-in Chase format birthed tension, drama and excitement. FOX Sports recently put together a list of the top-five takeaways from the wild opening race. And yes, the fights are mentioned. Our biggest takeaway? If Sunday's race is a premonition of what’s to come, we’re in for an exciting championship run. Click here to read the full article .
Kurt Busch recaps a strong run at Chicagoland and the late-race strategy call to not pit before the final restart.
Busch on Twitter: 'I found the love of my life' Kurt Busch is getting married. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver made that announcement in a Twitter post Wednesday evening, with fiancée Ashley Van Metre sporting her new engagement ring. I found the love of my life, and she said yes. pic.twitter.com/6Ni25ygRtB — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) August 27, 2015 Van Metre, 24, is a renowned polo player. The two began dating in November, according to motorsport.com , and became public in February when Van Metre was at Daytona Speedweeks. Busch is in the midst of one of his best seasons in years. He's clinched a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by virtue of his two victories; he also has eight top-five finishes and 13 top 10s in 21 starts. SHR co-owner Tony Stewart said the team hoped to "soon" finalize a new contract with the 37-year-old driver.
SHR team innovates on throwback weekend; display will be mandatory in 2016 MORE: Q&A on new digital dash DARLINGTON, S.C. -- NASCAR and its teams may be turning back the clock this weekend with Darlington Raceway 's "throwback" initiative and the return of the Bojangles' Southern 500 to the Labor Day holiday weekend, but both groups remain focused on the future as well. Case in point -- the Stewart-Haas Racing team with driver Kurt Busch . While the No. 41 Chevrolet is one of more than 30 entries featuring a retro paint scheme here this weekend, it is the only Sprint Cup entry featuring the new digital display (dashboard). Took this pic before practice. This is what the digital dash looks like from my perspective. #BojanglesSo500 pic.twitter.com/IWZCVwoHis — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) September 4, 2015 Teams were allowed to begin using the new technology in August; however this is the first time a team has had the new piece in place for a race weekend. The digital dash display will be mandatory in all Sprint Cup entries beginning in 2016. "With digital dash, you get the same information everyone else does," Greg Zipadelli, Vice President of Competition for SHR, said Friday morning at Darlington. "Obviously … the digital dash offers an awful lot of data … just a ton of stuff depending on what kind of channels they allow us to use in the future." That additional data won't be available this weekend – the system will provide only the readings available through current analog gauges. "It takes a little bit different (wiring) harness, a different dashboard," Zipadelli said. "( Kurt ) was willing to run it. It allowed a group of our guys at the shop to just basically jump on it; we're just trying to be a little bit ahead for next year and get some feedback, how does it work, what does he like about it, let the other drivers see it. RELATED: How has Kurt fared at Darlington? "That's really the only reason for us. We've got to do it next year, we don't have a choice, so we felt like we would embrace it and try … I don't want to try to figure it out at Daytona or Phoenix next year." There is a slight weight difference, he said, noting that the digital display is heavier. "So we worked a little bit harder on the surroundings of it to try and get it back to being equal." Earlier this year, Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR vice president of innovation and racing development, said the amount "of information we share and what we share will be somewhat dependent on the ability to telematically send information." "The teams will be getting the same information they get currently; and they do have the ability to reconfigure the dash to their liking. "We are also working on a tire-pressure monitoring system that will feed to the digital dash. The digital dash already has the receiver built into it; we're working on the technology from the tires to talk to the dash. We will then be able to log the tire pressures during a race and take those post-race. The question is can we have real-time pressure monitoring?" Current configurations inside the cars feature individual analog gauges for oil and water pressures, tachometer, fuel pressure and voltage. The digital dashboard will display similar information, but also has the ability to provide additional feedback such as the tire pressures mentioned by Stefanyshyn, lap times and even relevant pit stop information. Jamie McMurray , driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 1 Chevrolet, previewed the digital technology earlier this year during a Goodyear tire test at Kentucky. By flipping a switch, McMurray noted, the new dash also has the ability to revert to a screen that displays the information in a more conventional manner. Same dash just changed the page by hitting a switch. WAY different than what we have been using. pic.twitter.com/NNBdNRaYKs — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) April 13, 2015 In addition to providing more information to teams and drivers, officials have said it is hoped that the information can also be provided to fans to enhance the viewing experience. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
LEARN MORE: About Bing PLAY NOW: Play The Chase Grid Battle Game Powered by Bing The intensity in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is building as the competition moves to the Contender Round starting Saturday night in Charlotte and continuing the next two weeks at Kansas and Talladega. With the always unpredictable Talladega sitting at the end of this stretch of races, it's extra difficult to choose which eight of the remaining 12 drivers will advance to the Eliminator Round and get closer to a championship. But never fear, Bing is here to give you confidence in the picks you're about to make in The Chase Grid Battle Game Powered by Bing . With Bing Predicts , a methodology that has a history of producing accurate forecasts, you will be able to sort through these difficult times and come up with the winning choices. Bing Predicts accurately predicted the 16 drivers who would make the Chase this season, and it correctly picked 11 of the 12 drivers who advanced to the Contender Round. Check out the eight drivers Bing predicts will make it out of the Contender Round and into the Eliminator Round, then read at the bottom about an exciting opportunity to win a trip to Las Vegas for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Champion's Week. Bing Predicts : The eight drivers who will advance to the Eliminator Round Kevin Harvick , 96% chance Joey Logano , 86% Kyle Busch , 78% Denny Hamlin , 78% Brad Keselowski , 77% Matt Kenseth , 74% Carl Edwards , 64% Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 64% Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon , Martin Truex Jr , and Ryan Newman are projected not to advance to the 'Final 8.' Note: Bing's models predicted that Earnhardt Jr. is actually more likely to be eliminated than Kurt Busch , but Junior's stellar record on restrictor-plate tracks, particularly at Talladega where he has six career Sprint Cup victories, makes him more likely to win the last race in this round at Talladega and advance -- similar to what Harvick did at Dover to get into the Contender Round. In addition to helping you win the NASCAR Chase Grid Battle game, Bing also wants to send you on a trip of a lifetime to celebrate the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup champion. Now y ou can enter a sweepstakes through Bing Rewards for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week.
The following are team press releases previewing the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Joe Gibbs Racing : Kyle Busch " Team preview Carl Edwards " Team preview Denny Hamlin " Team preview Matt Kenseth " Team preview Stewart-Haas Racing : Kevin Harvick " Team preview Kurt Busch " Team preview Hendrick Motorsports : Jeff Gordon " Team preview Dale Earnhardt Jr . " Team preview Team Penske : Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano " Team preview Richard Childress Racing : Ryan Newman " Team preview Furniture Row Racing : Martin Truex Jr . " Team preview
Take a look at the retro paint scheme Kurt Busch will run at Darlington Raceway.
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- With Danica Patrick back in the Stewart-Haas Racing fold for 2016 and beyond, the team alignment for the four-driver NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign is less of a "glass half full" proposition and more like three-quarters full after Tuesday's announcement. The remaining piece to the SHR puzzle is also its most recent addition -- Kurt Busch , who moved over to drive the No. 41 Chevrolet in 2014. Team co-owner Tony Stewart summed up the timing of potentially re-signing the 37-year-old driver in one word: "Soon." Stewart's Tuesday morning comments backed up remarks by Gene Haas, the team's co-owner, in recent weeks, stating that a contract extension with the former Sprint Cup champion was nearing completion. "I think we're getting close on that as well," Stewart said after Patrick's No. 10 Nature's Bakery Chevrolet was unveiled at the SHR shop. "Like I said, the great thing is it's seamless transitions at this point, so if we can finish up a couple details then we'll be able to focus on making these race cars good for the Chase again." Busch and Stewart-Haas teammate Kevin Harvick are among those drivers who have already clinched a return trip to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion, and Busch , who was crowned in 2004, are each two-time winners this season. Busch missed the first three races of the season because of a NASCAR-mandated suspension related to an investigation of domestic violence. After the absence, Busch has built upon his chemistry with veteran crew chief Tony Gibson, rallying to eighth place in the Sprint Cup driver standings with wins at Richmond and Michigan this year. Busch qualified for the Chase last season with a victory at Martinsville Speedway in just his sixth start for the team. He was eliminated from the 16-driver Chase field in the opening three-race round.
Kurt Busch struggles with loose conditions and goes for a spin while running in the tenth position at Kentucky Speedway.