LAS VEGAS – Kurt Busch was struggling in dirty air early in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The solution? Trade the dirty air for clean air at the front of the pack.
Busch and crew chief Matt McCall opted to stay on track as long as possible during the second stage of the race, pitting for tires and fuel with 15 laps left in the segment. That enable Busch to keep his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet on the track while others came to pit road for the stage break.
Busch led the field to green on Lap 168 before losing the lead briefly to eventual race winner Joey Logano for one lap. Busch then held the top spot on older tires despite huge pressure from Kevin Harvick before Harvick took the lead on Lap 188. Busch held on for a fifth-place finish in his third race with his new team.
“We got really tight in traffic, and our pit strategist was saying that, if we stayed long in the second stage, then we could stay out,” Busch said. “It played out to where we got clean air, and it completely changed the complexion of the car…
“It gave us a lot to learn from today, and I’m really proud of everybody to get a top five. Now we’ve got two top fives to year, but we know we’ve got some more work to do.”