Kurt Busch and the single-car Furniture Row Racing team are on the cusp of a history-making feat heading into Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 at the 0.75-mile Virginia short track is the final event before the 12-driver Chase field is set for the ensuing 10-race playoffs that will determine the 2013 Sprint Cup Series champion.
Following his fourth-place finish in Sunday night’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Busch moved into 10th place in the driver point standings, the final guaranteed Chase spot before the two-wildcard entries. He is six points ahead of 11th place.
A berth in the Chase, which began in 2004, would give Busch the distinction of being the first driver from a single-car team to qualify for the Chase.
“We’re in position to make history and that’s pretty exciting for everyone associated with Furniture Row Racing,” said Busch, who won the NASCAR championship in the inaugural Chase season. “It's been our goal at Furniture Row Racing from the beginning of the year to make the Chase and we enter the final pre-Chase race controlling our own destiny. We need to get it done on our own Saturday night and not worry about what the other Chase contenders are doing.”
Busch’s rise to the top-10 in driver points is a result of strong performances, including seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in the first 25 races of the season.
One of Busch’s top-10s – a ninth-place result -- came in the spring race at Richmond, where he led 36 laps and was running third before the final caution came out with four laps remaining.
“We have good notes from the last Richmond race,” stated Busch, driver of the Denver-based No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet SS. “But it’s a short track and you can get caught up in somebody else’s mess very easily there. It’s a balancing act – we need to protect our car and at the same time battle hard to stay up front.”
Busch has one win, four top-fives and eight top-10s in 25 career starts at Richmond.
“Richmond is a tough track,” noted Busch. “You can punish your tires and then suffer the last 30 laps of a fuel run. It gets into that old tire-management category and not a lot of people see that. If you play it cool for the first 15 laps you'll have better tires for the later part of the run. But then if you're playing it cool on the restart you get swallowed up and slide back and then you have to battle back with those tires. It's a tough balance.”