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KURT BUSCH - 2014 Darlington Race Report
Event: Southern 500 (Round 8 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 13th/31st (Accident, completed 368 of 374 laps)
Point Standing: 26th (164 points, 133 points out of first)
Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart Haas Racing in a green-white-checkered finish (Chevrolet)
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was unable to survive the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish in the Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and finished 31st.
Busch started 13th and ran in the top-15 for the majority of the night – as high as seventh on several occasions – at the 1.366-mile oval. Crew chief Daniel Knost and Busch agreed on a two-tire strategy for the team’s final pit stop on lap 361, when the No. 41 came in 12th and restarted ninth. Busch was able to keep the Haas Automation Chevrolet in the ninth position until the next caution on lap 365. The entire field stayed out and set up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
As Busch took the green flag on lap 369 for the first attempt at the green-white-checkered, the car immediately behind him made contact with the rear bumper of the No. 41 car, forcing a slide into the inside wall that caused enough damage to prevent Busch from finishing the event.
“That was a terrible way to end what could have been a decent night,” Busch said. “We struggled at times to get the balance of the Haas Automation Chevrolet right, but we kind of found our spot just past the halfway point and made slight adjustments the rest of the way. We called for a two-tire stop at the end hoping to gain some track position, but it seemed like everyone had the same idea. We gained a little, but the guys behind us all had four tires. I tried to hold them off the best I could, but someone moved me out of their way and it ruined our night. I hate it for the team, but we keep learning each week and we will get better.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Saturday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway by winning the Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was the 22nd point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s third this season, tops among all Sprint Cup teams.
Harvick started from the pole and led seven times for a race-high 238 laps en route to his first win in 18 career Sprint Cup starts at Darlington. It was also his 25th career victory in 474 career Sprint Cup starts.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished ninth. It was his 12th top-10 in 22 career Sprint Cup starts at Darlington and his fourth this season. It was also his 294th top-10 in 529 career Sprint Cup starts.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 22nd. It was Patrick’s 54th career Sprint Cup start and her third at Darlington.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished .558 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Stewart and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 11 caution periods for 50 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 374-lap race, which was extended seven laps by a green-white-checkered finish.
With round eight of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 12th with 224 points, 73 behind first-place Gordon. Harvick is 22nd with 186 points, 111 out of first. Kurt Busch is 26th with 164 points, 133 out of first. Patrick is 29th with 143 points, 154 out of first.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off for Easter before returning to action April 26 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway for the Richmond 400. The race starts at 7 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 6:30 p.m.